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19-12-2015 | Empirical Research | Uitgave 3/2016

Journal of Youth and Adolescence 3/2016

Basic Psychological Need Satisfaction, Emotion Dysregulation, and Non-suicidal Self-Injury Engagement in Young Adults: An Application of Self-Determination Theory

Journal of Youth and Adolescence > Uitgave 3/2016
A. Ann Emery, Nancy L. Heath, Devin J. Mills


Non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) is a public health concern that affects young adults at alarming rates. The present study examines the role of satisfaction of self-determination theory’s three basic needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness in young adults’ NSSI engagement. University students who reported ever having engaged in NSSI (n = 40, 85 % female; Mage = 20.10, SD = 1.66) reported significantly lower levels of the satisfaction of all three needs, as well as more difficulties with all aspects of emotion regulation (non-acceptance of emotional responses, difficulty engaging in goal directed behavior, impulse control, lack of emotional awareness, limited access to regulation strategies, lack of emotional clarity), compared to students with no history of NSSI (n = 46, 91 % female; Mage = 19.79, SD = 1.37). Results of a logistic regression analysis revealed that need satisfaction added to the prediction of NSSI group membership after controlling for the effects of emotion regulation. Satisfaction of the need for competence and limited access to emotion regulation strategies accounted for significant variance in NSSI in the final model. The findings suggest that self-determination theory may be a useful framework under which to conceptualize NSSI and that the need for competence may be particularly salient for University students.

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