Psychological distress and perfectionism in recent suicide attempters: the role of behavioural inhibition and activation

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The present study explored the role of approach and avoidance motivation in self-harm patients. Specifically, it tested the hypotheses that perfectionism moderates/mediates the association between these different motivation systems and psychological distress (suicidal thinking & hopelessness). Patients (n=125) admitted overnight following self-harm completed self-report measures of motivation (BIS/BAS), multidimensional perfectionism, depression/anxiety, hopelessness and suicidal thinking. The results showed that socially prescribed perfectionism mediated the relationship between behavioural inhibition (BIS) and suicidal thinking, whilst self-oriented perfectionism moderated the BAS-Drive x suicidal thinking relationship. In addition, in support of the updated Reinforcement Sensitivity Framework we found a moderating relationship between BIS and BAS-Drive in the prediction of hopelessness. The clinical and theoretical implications are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2012


  • suicide
  • psychological distress
  • personality disorder

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