Psychosocial Factors of Non- Suicidal Self-Injury in Adolescents and Young Adults

Author: Soulat Khan

Supervisor: Rukhsana Kasusar, Ph.D

Degree: M.Phil

Year: 2012-2014

University: Institute of Applied Psychology, Punjab University, Lahore, Pakistan


The present research aimed to investigate the psychosocial factors of non suicidal self-injury (NSSI) in adolescents and young adults. Study
assessed the prevalence rate, reinforcing factors or functions, behavioral
methods and associated risk factors of NSSI in sample of self-injury
adolescent and young adults. Hypotheses include (a) Self-injurers and
non- self-injurers are likely to differ on family dynamics, interpersonal
problems and personal characteristics (anger, emotional regulation, self criticism (b) There is likely to be relationship between family dynamics,
interpersonal problems, personal characteristics and NSSI in adolescents
and young adults (c) Family dynamics, interpersonal problems and
personal characteristics are likely predictors of NSSI in adolescents and
young adults (d) Interpersonal problems and personal characteristics are
likely to mediate the relationship between family dynamics and NSSI in
adolescents and young adults. Sample comprised of 164 adolescents and
young adults (n = 82 self-injurers, n = 82 non-self-injurers) with age range
between 16 to 24 years (M = 20.47, SD = 1.80). Demographic and NSSI
related information questionnaire, Family Adaptability and Cohesion
Evaluation Scale IV (Olson, 2011), Inventory of Interpersonal Problems
(Horowitz, Alden, & Wiggins,1996), Anger Self-Report (Reynolds,
Walkey & Green, 1994), Emotional Regulation Scale (Gross, & John,
2003), Self-Rating Scale (Hooley et al., 2002) and Self-Harm Behavior
Questionnaire (Osman & Guiterrez ,2001) were used to assess
demographic and NSSI related information, family dynamics,
interpersonal problems, anger, emotional regulation, self-criticism and
NSSI respectively. Results revealed that Prevalence rate of NSSI
was16.25% and female to male ratio of prevalence rate was approximately
2:1. Frequently used behavioral methods of NSSI included, cutting skin
(74.4%), hitting self (20.7%) and burning (13.4%).The most common
reinforcing factors for NSSI were gaining attention (46.34%), to get rid of
negative thoughts/feeling (26.82%) and self- punishment (26.82%).
Families of self-injurers in comparison to non-self –injurers were less
cohesive, less flexible, overly enmeshed and self- injurers had unhealthy
communication patterns with family members and more dissatisfied with
their families comparative to non-
self-injurers. Self-injurers were more critical towards them, more-selfcentered, non-assertive, socially inhibited, and accommodating had high
level of anger and couldn’t reappraise their emotions effectively than
non-self-injurers. Self- criticism, anger, emotional regulation (expressive
suppression) and interpersonal problems (social inhibition, non assertiveness) had significant positive relationship with NSSI. Emotional
regulation (cognitive reappraisal) and family dynamics (cohesion, family
communication) had significant negative relationship with NSSI. Anger,
self-criticism family rigidity and enmeshment emerged as significant
predictors of NSSI. Cognitive reappraisal emerged as significant mediator
between family cohesion and NSSI. This study improves our
understanding of the underlying mechanisms involved in NSSI and
findings may enhance conceptualization and treatment of adolescents and
young adults with NSSI.

Keywords: Psychosocial Factors, Family Dynamics, Interpersonal P;roblems, Emotional Rgulation, Non-Suicidal Injury.

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Corresponding Address: Department of Applied Psychology, University of the Punjab, Lahore, Pakistan. Email:, Phone: 92-42-9231245

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