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01-12-2013 | Original Article | Uitgave 6/2013

Cognitive Therapy and Research 6/2013

The Role of Sensation Seeking in Non-Suicidal Self-Injury

Cognitive Therapy and Research > Uitgave 6/2013
Anne C. Knorr, Abigail L. Jenkins, Bradley T. Conner


Non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) is a major health concern across the lifespan, yet much remains unknown about the possible causes and functions of this behavior. The goal of the current study was to examine the role of multiple facets of sensation seeking in NSSI among a sample of 1,648 undergraduate students (70.5 % female). It was hypothesized that individuals endorsing higher levels of sensation seeking, as measured at the trait level by assessing individual differences in Risk Seeking and Experience Seeking and with a functional assessment of sensation seeking as it relates to NSSI, specifically, would engage in more acts of NSSI and more types of NSSI, and would also be more likely to engage in specific types of NSSI. Results of negative binomial and logistic regressions provided partial support for study hypotheses. After controlling for Emotional Reactivity in all analyses, individuals higher in Risk Seeking were significantly more likely to have a history of NSSI and have engaged in more acts of NSSI. On the contrary, Experience Seeking did not significantly predict lifetime engagement in NSSI, and this facet, as well as Sensation Seeking Function significantly negatively predicted engagement in more acts of NSSI. Furthermore, only Sensation Seeking Function predicted the use of more types of NSSI methods. All three sensation seeking variables predicted the use of specific NSSI behaviors. Results suggest that risk seeking, in particular, may be most relevant to NSSI, as it consistently predicted lifetime NSSI, number of acts, and specific methods of NSSI. Theoretical and clinical implications are discussed.

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