Low Emotional Awareness as a Transdiagnostic Mechanism Underlying Psychopathology in Adolescence

David G. Weissman, Erik C. Nook, Aridenne A. Dews, Adam Bryant Miller, Hilary K. Lambert, Stephanie F. Sasse, Leah H. Somerville, Katie A. McLaughlin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


The ability to identify and label one’s emotions is associated with effective emotion regulation, rendering emotional awareness important for mental health. We evaluated how emotional awareness was related to psychopathology and whether low emotional awareness was a transdiagnostic mechanism explaining the increase in psychopathology during the transition to adolescence and as a function of childhood trauma—specifically, violence exposure. In Study 1, children and adolescents (N = 120, age range = 7–19 years) reported on emotional awareness and psychopathology. Emotional awareness was negatively associated with psychopathology (p-factor) and worsened across age in females but not males. In Study 2 (N = 262, age range = 8–16 years), we replicated these findings and demonstrated longitudinally that low emotional awareness mediated increases in p-factor as a function of age in females and violence exposure. These findings indicate that low emotional awareness may be a transdiagnostic mechanism linking adolescent development, sex, and trauma with the emergence of psychopathology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)971-988
Number of pages18
JournalClinical Psychological Science
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2020
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Psychology


  • alexithymia
  • developmental psychopathology
  • open data
  • open materials
  • p-factor
  • sex differences
  • trauma


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