The roles of social stress and decision-making in non-suicidal self-injury

Heather T Schatten, Fordham University

Abstract

Non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI), or deliberate harm to the body without intent to die, is often performed in order to alleviate negative affect. Although individuals with an NSSI history can generate alternative behaviors, they choose to engage in NSSI, pointing to a deficit in decision-making. However, research indicates that individuals with an NSSI history do not perform worse than individuals with no NSSI history on a measure of risky decision-making at baseline. It is possible that decision-making deficits only occur in particular contexts, such as stressful interpersonal situations. The primary aim of this investigation was to examine whether changes in decision-making following social exclusion would vary as a function of NSSI status. ^ Methods: Participants included 120 adults with (n = 48) and without (n = 72) histories of NSSI. They were assessed for demographic and clinical variables, level of distress, and decision-making ability measured by the Iowa Gambling Task (IGT) at baseline. Participants were randomly assigned to a social inclusion or exclusion condition on the Cyberball task, after which they rated their level of distress and completed the IGT again. ^ Results: Individuals with a history of NSSI who were socially excluded reported more distress than individuals with a history of NSSI who were included; however, individuals with a history of NSSI were not significantly more distressed following exclusion than those with no NSSI history. Decision-making ability did not differ at baseline between individuals with and without NSSI histories, nor following the Cyberball task. However, individuals who described themselves as non-Hispanic White did perform more poorly on the IGT following social exclusion. ^ Conclusion: Results of the current study supported research indicating that individuals with a history of NSSI perform similarly to individuals with no NSSI history on a behavioral measure of risky decision-making. However, results of the current study revealed that only non-Hispanic White individuals with a history of NSSI perform more poorly on a measure of decision-making following social exclusion compared to baseline. Given that this study was the first of its kind to use an experimental manipulation prior to administering a standardized test of risky decision-making, further research is needed to elucidate the role of decision-making in NSSI.^

Subject Area

Psychology, Behavioral|Psychology, Social|Psychology, Clinical

Recommended Citation

Schatten, Heather T, "The roles of social stress and decision-making in non-suicidal self-injury" (2014). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3643386.
https://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI3643386

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