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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Experiences, cognitions, and affects : investigating non-suicidal self-injury through the modal model of emotion Victor, Sarah Elizabeth


Non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) is associated with psychiatric distress, physical harm, and suicide. NSSI is commonly used to regulate negative emotions, but it is still unclear how these negative emotions arise. Using the framework of the modal model of emotion, I considered how situations (hassles), attention (biases towards or away from emotional stimuli), appraisal (attributional style), and responses (emotional reactivity, problem solving, and emotion regulation) relate to NSSI. Specifically, I compared undergraduate (sample 1) and community adult (sample 2) participants with a recent and recurrent history of NSSI to participants with no NSSI history using self-report and behavioral data regarding NSSI, modal model components, and relevant potential covariates, such as depression and anxiety symptoms. In both samples, daily hassles, negative event attributional style, emotional reactivity, (reduced) reappraisal, and rumination were significantly associated with NSSI. Positive event attributional style was only associated with NSSI in sample 2, but not in sample 1. Problem solving confidence and problem solving style were associated with NSSI in sample 1, but were not assessed in sample 2. Finally, NSSI was not associated with the use of expressive suppression in either sample. These results have important implications for understanding what contributes to NSSI among adults, namely, that a multitude of characteristics and processes seem to be associated with NSSI across different types of samples. Further, understanding which aspects of the modal model most clearly differentiate individuals with and without NSSI may highlight potential treatment targets that show promise for NSSI.

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