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Non-suicidal self-injury : the associations among emotional, parental, and peer influences



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Non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) is a complex and dangerous set of behaviours that has been gaining increased research attention in recent years. Although existing research indicates that NSSI is prevalent among both adolescent and young adult clinical and community samples, few studies have empirically examined models of factors involved in the etiology and maintenance of these behaviours, particularly the role of social factors. Further, although existing research supports the use of NSSI for emotion regulation purposes, less research attention has focused on the impact of emotion reactivity. The focus of the current project was to examine the role of emotional, interpersonal, and subcultural factors in NSSI. Utilizing a sample of 397 university students, Study 1 presents a psychometric re-evaluation of the Emotion Reactivity Scale (ERS; Nock et al., 2008), used to inform the most appropriate use of the measure in the subsequent studies. Results supported the reliability and validity of the ERS and suggested that the ERS is best utilized as a unidimensional measure of emotion reactivity. Study 2 examined an intra- and inter-personal model of NSSI among the same sample of 397 university students. Support was obtained for the Experiential Avoidance Model of NSSI (Chapman et al., 2006) as well as for the mediational influence of interpersonal relationships on NSSI via emotion regulation. Preliminary support was also provided for the influence of identification with more deviant subcultures, including Goth and Emo groups. Finally, Study 3 aimed to replicate support for the model among a sample of 178 members of self-injury internet forums. Contrary to hypotheses, little support was demonstrated for the model, and fewer significant associations were demonstrated for the influence of subcultural identification. Examination of the characteristics of the sample suggested that the online forum members represent a unique group in regard to the severity of their NSSI experiences that has been understudied in the existing literature. Alternative hypotheses to account for the observed findings are presented. Limitations and directions for future research are discussed.



NSSI, self-injury, emotion regulation, emotion reactivity, parental relationships, peer relationships, subculture



Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)






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