ISSN 2043-8087
Journal of Experimental Psychopathology
 Volume 8, Issue 4, 332-346, 2017
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An Experimental Test of the Interpersonal in the Interpersonal Theory of Suicide

  Sarah George - University of Western Australia
  Khan Collins - University of Western Australia
  Temily Cao - University of Western Australia
  Werner Stritzke - University of Western Australia
  Andrew Page - University of Western Australia

Volume 8, Issue 4, 2017, Pages 332-346


The interpersonal theory of suicide posits that failed interpersonal needs for efficacy and belongingness cause suicide ideation (Joiner, 2005).  To distinguish whether their mechanism of action is interpersonal or via failure per se, an experimental paradigm was used.  In Study 1 (n = 98), participants were randomly allocated to high or low perceived burdensomeness and thwarted belongingness conditions.  Those who experienced high levels of the interpersonal factors expressed a heightened desire to disengage from the task.  To test whether disengagement was caused by interpersonal factors or just poor performance, participants in Study 2 (n = 63) were randomly allocated to complete the task in collaborative (i.e., interpersonal) or competitive (i.e., intrapersonal) conditions.  The deficits in persistence were greater among participants in the interpersonal condition, indicating that the interpersonal nature of perceived burdensomeness and thwarted belongingness makes these factors particularly pernicious, supporting the emphasis of the interpersonal theory of suicide.  

Table of Contents
Research Rationale and Aims
Study 1
  Participants and procedures.
  Interpersonal persistence task (Collins et al., 2016).
  Zest for life scale (ZLS; George, Stritzke, et al., 2016).
  Interpersonal needs questionnaire (INQ; Van Orden, Witte, Gordon, Bender, & Joiner, 2008).
  Suicide risk.
  General psychological distress.
 Results & Discussion
  Data analytic strategy.
  Screening and manipulation checks.
  Participant characteristics by group and condition.
  Experimental manipulation of perceived burdensomeness and thwarted belongingness.
Study 2
  Participants and procedures.
  Persistence task.
 Results & Discussion
  Data analytic strategy.
  Screening and manipulation checks.
  Sample characteristics.
  Experimental manipulation.
General Discussion
Limitations and Directions for Future Research

Correspondence to
Prof Andrew Page

burdensomeness, thwarted belongingness, suicide, interpersonal theory of suicide, zest for life

Received 12 Oct 2016; Revised 15 May 2017; Accepted 15 May 2017; In Press 22 Jul 2017

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