Regulatory focus and the p factor: Evidence for self-regulatory dysfunction as a transdiagnostic feature of general psychopathology.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

A general psychopathology ('p') factor captures transdiagnostic features of mental illness; however, the meaning of the p factor remains unclear. Regulatory focus theory postulates that individuals regulate goal pursuit either by maximizing gains (promotion) or minimizing losses (prevention). As maladaptive goal pursuit has been associated with multiple categorical disorders, we examined whether individual differences in promotion and prevention goal pursuit are associated with p as well as internalizing- and externalizing-specific factors using structural equation modeling of data from 1330 volunteers aged 18-22. Unsuccessful attainment of promotion and prevention goals was related to increased levels of p. Over and above relations with the p factor, unsuccessful attainment of promotion goals was associated with higher internalizing-specific psychopathology, whereas unsuccessful attainment of prevention goals was related to higher externalizing-specific psychopathology. These associations also were separable from related personality traits. After controlling for sex differences in the composition of the psychopathology factors, there were no sex differences in the relations between promotion and prevention goal pursuit and p and specific internalizing and externalizing factors. These findings suggest higher general psychopathology reflects poorer overall self-regulation of goal pursuit and that maladaptive promotion and prevention orientations also are associated with internalizing- and externalizing-specific psychopathology, respectively.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Romer, AL; Hariri, AR; Strauman, TJ

Published Date

  • May 1, 2021

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 137 /

Start / End Page

  • 178 - 185

PubMed ID

  • 33684642

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC8085096

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1879-1379

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0022-3956

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2021.02.051


  • eng