Date of Degree

9-2019

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Program

Psychology

Advisor

Elliot Jurist

Committee Members

Steve Tuber

Benjamin Harris

Diana Puñales

Genevieve Rosenbaum

Subject Categories

Clinical Psychology

Keywords

Adolescent Mental health

Abstract

The following study was designed to look at the impact of Mentalization (or Reflective Functioning (RF)) as well as Mentalized Affectivity (MA) [comprised of Identifying, Processing, and Expressing] and Self-Compassion (SC) on psychological adjustment in adolescents. Psychological adjustment in this study was measured utilizing measures of psychological symptoms (internalizing and externalizing symptoms) and well-being.

While deficiencies in RF have been associated with increased psychological symptoms in clinical sample of adolescents, studies examining RF in community sample of adolescents have shown a mixed picture. Furthermore, no study to date has examined the impact of MA on psychological adjustment in community sample of adolescents. While SC has consistently been associated with fewer psychological symptoms in the adolescent population, the links between SC and MA as well as SC and RF in predicting psychological adjustment in adolescents have not been investigated.

A sample of 114 adolescents (13-18 years old) were recruited. It was hypothesized that 1) Higher levels of SC would predict greater well-being and fewer internalizing and externalizing symptoms; 2) Higher levels of RF and MA would predict greater well-being as well as fewer internalizing and externalizing symptoms; 3) SC would interact with RF and MA such that those with higher RF or MA and higher SC would have greater well-being and fewer internalizing symptoms compared to those with higher RF or MA and lower SC. The results of the study provided support for the first hypothesis: those adolescents with higher levels of SC showed greater well-being and fewer internalizing and externalizing symptoms. The test of the second hypothesis showed that contrary to what was predicted, higher levels of RF predicted lower levels of well-being in adolescents. The only subset of MA that predicted well-being in this study was Processing. The examination of the third hypothesis showed that there was an interaction between Expressing (a subset of MA) and SC in predicting well-being but no interaction between RF and SC in predicting well-being or internalizing symptoms. The findings of this study provide further support for the significance of SC during adolescence. However, the results suggest that high RF during adolescence might in fact impact well-being negatively and does not predict better mental health in this age group. However, processing of emotions could be beneficial in predicting greater well-being while expressing is only beneficial when coupled with SC. Suggestions for future studies as well as limitations are discussed.

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