Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Dr. Ruth A. Baer


Non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) is the intentional destruction of bodily tissue in the absence of suicidal motives. NSSI is strongly associated with self-criticism (Gilbert et al., 2010) and individuals who self-injure often report doing so to punish themselves. Conversely, self-compassion, or the tendency to be caring with oneself, is associated with psychological well-being (Neff et al., 2007). The aim of the present study was to determine whether experimentally inducing self-criticism or self-compassion would lead to changes in implicit identification with NSSI. The Self-Injury Implicit Association Test (SI-IAT; Nock & Banaji, 2007) is an assessment of the strength of the automatic associations that a person holds between themselves and NSSI. Participants were randomly assigned to a self-criticism induction, a self-compassion induction, or a neutral condition and completed the SI-IAT before and after the induction. Results showed that participants in the self-criticism induction experienced an increase in their implicit associations with NSSI while implicit associations in the self-compassion and control conditions generally did not change. Results were not significantly different for those with or without a history of NSSI and highlight the importance of self-criticism in NSSI. Future research should examine increases in self-criticism as a potential precursor of NSSI in longitudinal samples.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)