Amy Paggeot

Date Approved


Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department or School


Committee Member

Thomas Waltz

Committee Member

Steven Huprich

Committee Member

Tamara Loverich

Committee Member

Kenneth Rusiniak


Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a serious and costly disorder characterized by emotional dysregulation and risky, impulsive behaviors. Urgency is a type of impulsivity that has been strongly associated with symptoms of BPD, and it remains unclear whether Urgency represents a failure of self-regulation under conditions of strong emotions or whether Urgency reflects short-term attempts to regulate strong emotions. A useful method for studying the role of strong emotions in impulsive behaviors is “mood freezing”. Mood freezing is a technique that uses a placebo to create a context in which individuals believe that they are unable to change their mood for a period of time. The present study utilizes a mood freezing manipulation to examine whether Urgency in individuals with and without BPD is associated with emotion regulation index behaviors during a psychologically stressful task (modified PASAT-C; Lejuez, Kahler, & Brown, 2003). Two-way independent analyses of variance (ANOVAs) were utilized to examine both main effects and interaction effects of group and condition on the frequency of emotion regulation index behaviors during the stressful task to determine if these behaviors were functioning as short-term emotion regulation strategies. Analyses showed a significant main effect of condition on number of pauses during the PASAT-C, and a significant group effect on time to first pause during the PASAT-C, with trends towards both groups converging on more pausing at an earlier time point under conditions of a mood freeze manipulation. Urgency was the only significant predictor of both number of pauses and time to first pause in a linear regression analysis including BPD symptoms, experiential avoidance, and delay discounting. Secondary analyses showed slowed reaction time on a modified Stroop task in the high BPD trait group, a significantly larger effect of the mood induction manipulation on the high BPD trait group, and a significant correlation between Urgency and BPD symptoms. Study results support the conclusion that Urgency is the type of impulsivity most highly related to BPD symptoms, and that Urgency is related to emotional regulation and distress tolerance behaviors. Limitations and future directions are discussed.