A longitudinal examination of the association between non-suicidal self-injury, emotional intelligence, and family context in adolescents




Perloe, Alexandra

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Non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI), which peaks in adolescence, is associated with poor psychological health, physical pain, and risk for future suicide attempts, but empirically supported treatment is scarce. Emotional intelligence (EI) – the ability to perceive, understand and manage emotions –captures several factors relevant to the development of NSSI. The present set of studies examined the role of EI in the development of NSSI in a clinical adolescent sample. The first study examined the potential for a reciprocal longitudinal relationship between NSSI and four facets of EI (stress management, intrapersonal, interpersonal, and adaptability) that have theoretical and empirical links to NSSI. It was hypothesized that poor EI would increase the likelihood and frequency of future NSSI, which would in turn prevent adolescents from learning more adaptive coping skills and thus exacerbate their EI deficits. Participants were 91 adolescents ages 13-18 (mean age= 15.5, SD = 1.4; 61% female; 46.1% Caucasian) who were enrolled (along with one parent each) in a randomized controlled trial of a prevention workshop targeting suicide, HIV and substance abuse. All adolescents had received mental health treatment at baseline. Results of cross-lagged autoregressive models did not support a bidirectional relationship between NSSI and EI over time, suggesting that cross-sectional correlates of NSSI may not hold longitudinal predictive power.



Psychology, Adolescent psychology, Child maltreatment, Emotional intelligence, Non-suicidal self-injury, Parental psychopathology