Emotion-related cognitive processes in borderline personality disorder: A review of the empirical literature

Ruth A. Baer, Jessica R. Peters, Tory A. Eisenlohr-Moul, Paul J. Geiger, Shannon E. Sauer

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

134 Scopus citations


Maladaptive cognitive processes, including selective attention and memory, distorted beliefs and interpretations, and thinking processes such as rumination and thought suppression, are strongly associated with many emotional disorders. This paper reviews research that extends these findings to the emotional dysfunction characteristic of borderline personality disorder (BPD). Results suggest that people with BPD habitually attend to negative stimuli, have disproportionate access to negative memories, endorse a range of BPD-consistent negative beliefs about themselves, the world, and other people, and make negatively biased interpretations and evaluations of neutral or ambiguous stimuli. They also engage in thought suppression and rumination and these tendencies are significantly associated with the severity of their BPD symptoms. It remains unclear whether maladaptive cognitive processes play a causal role in the development and maintenance of BPD or are correlates or consequences of having the disorder. Continued study of emotion-related cognitive processing in BPD may improve understanding and treatment of this severe disorder.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)359-369
Number of pages11
JournalClinical Psychology Review
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jul 2012


  • Attention bias
  • Borderline personality disorder
  • Emotion-related cognitive processes
  • Memory bias
  • Thinking bias
  • Transdiagnostic perspective

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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