Making the case for a preferences in information processing model of suicide

Robert J. Cramer, Laura H. Gunn, Andréa R. Kaniuka, Susan Rasmussen

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Background: In recent years, practice friendly models of suicidal behavior have emerged in the form of "ideation-to-action" frameworks. These frameworks focus on processes influencing both the formation of suicidal ideation and the translation of that ideation to suicide attempt and death. In this paper, we proffer an emerging model of suicide, Preferences in Information Processing (PIP), to augment contemporary suicide theories. First, we provide a primer on dual-process models of information processing theory and research as the foundation for the PIP. Next, drawing on a number of initial cross-sectional studies, we outline a rationale and examples of how preferences in motivated affect (i.e., Need for Affect) and cognition (i.e., Need for Cognition) may be integrated into existing ideation-to-action frameworks. Methods: We conducted secondary analysis of our pooled community sample PIP data. Results: We present new findings suggesting Need for Affect avoidance and Need for Cognition may be clinically relevant for persons at escalated risk for suicide. Conclusion: The PIP offers new testable propositions within ideation-to-action suicide frameworks. We end with recommendations for a research agenda to further investigate the potential validation and utility of a PIP approach to suicidology.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages31
JournalJournal of Social and Clinical Psychology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 16 Aug 2021


  • suicide
  • need for affect
  • need for cognition
  • ideation-to-action
  • information processing


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