Risk factors for nonsuicidal self‐injury in Japanese college students: The moderating role of mood regulation expectancies

Fiona Tresno, Yoshimi Ito, Jack Mearns
Published Online:
05 Feb 2014
Volume/Issue No:
Volume 48 Issue 6

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Self‐injurious behavior is increasing among college students, and is common in both psychiatric and nonclinical populations. People's engaging in self‐injury is associated with childhood maltreatment, poor negative mood regulation expectancies, and depression. During times of distress, maltreated children without healthy coping strategies tend to have impairment in mood regulation, which contributes to engaging in self‐injury. This study investigated differences between nonsuicidal self‐injury (NSSI) and non‐self‐injury groups in history of childhood maltreatment, negative mood regulation expectancies, and depression in a sample of Japanese college students. We also assessed risk factors for self‐injurious behavior, including mood regulation expectancies as a moderator of the relationship between childhood maltreatment and NSSI. Participants were 313 undergraduate students, who completed anonymous self‐report questionnaires—Deliberate Self‐Harm Inventory, Child Abuse and Trauma Scale, Negative Mood Regulation Scale, and short version of the Center for Epidemiological Studies–Depression Scale. Ten percent (n = 31) of all participants had injured themselves. Consistent with past literature, participants with self‐injury history reported more severe childhood maltreatment, poorer mood regulation expectancies, and more depression, compared to non‐self‐injurers. Frequency of NSSI positively correlated with childhood maltreatment and depression, and negatively correlated with negative mood regulation expectancies. Regression analysis revealed that stronger expectancies for negative mood regulation interacted with maltreatment to predict self‐injury: More maltreatment was associated with more self‐injury, particularly among those with weaker expectancies. Results suggested childhood maltreatment, low expectancies for negative mood regulation, and depression predicted self‐injury. Consistent with our moderation hypothesis, strong expectancies for negative mood regulation buffered the effects of childhood maltreatment, reducing the risk for self‐injury.

© 2013 International Union of Psychological Science