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Title:Testing alternative motivational models for self-injurious behavior
Author(s):Schoenleber, Michelle
Director of Research:Berenbaum, Howard
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Berenbaum, Howard
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Roberts, Brent W.; Motl, Robert W.; Verona, Edelyn; Miller, Gregory A.
Department / Program:Psychology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
emotion regulation
Abstract:Emotion-related motivations for self-injurious behavior were examined in a sample of 115 women, 26 of whom reported a history of self-injury. Specifically, two popular motivational models were tested, 1) the Affect Regulation Model, which asserts that self-injurious behavior is used to down-regulate unpleasant emotions, and 2) the Self-Punishment Model, which asserts that individuals who self-injure view themselves as bad persons who deserve to be punished. The present study also tested an alternative, novel motivational model for self-injury, the Shame Regulation Model, which asserts that self-injurious behaviors are used particularly to down-regulate shame among individuals who are prone and averse to that emotion. A variety of self-report measures were used to assess history of and motivations for self-injury, proneness and aversion to emotions, and punishment deservingness. Further, a finger pressure algometer task was employed to determine whether changes in state emotions following the experience of physical pain would be consistent with the expectations of the above models. Overall, results indicated that women who are averse to unpleasant emotions in general are more likely to have engaged in self-injurious behavior. Moreover, among women with a history of self-injury, being prone to frequent shame was associated with the use of a greater variety of self-injurious behaviors and with more frequent self-injurious acts. Women with a history of self-injury were more tolerant of pressure pain on the algometer task, and they experienced a decrease in both general negative affect and shame. Implications for future research on self-injury, as well as the treatment of this serious psychological problem, are discussed.
Issue Date:2013-08-22
Rights Information:Copyright 2013 Michelle Schoenleber
Date Available in IDEALS:2013-08-22
Date Deposited:2013-08

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