Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Dr. Elizabeth Jones (Director), Dr. Frederick Grieve, Dr. Jacqueline Pope-Tarrence

Degree Program

Department of Psychology

Degree Type

Master in Psychology


Students of a south central university provide data for this study investigating knowledge of self-injury (SI), experiences with those who self-injure, and perceptions of SI. This study proposes that college peers of those who self-injure have higher levels of SI knowledge than professionals who work with individuals who self-injure. In addition, the study proposes that individuals who have experience with others who self-injure have higher levels of SI knowledge than individuals who do not have experience with others who self-injure. An additional purpose of this study is to explore information regarding experiences people have with others who self-injure and their perceptions of self-injurious behavior. A convenience sample of 495 members solicited from psychology courses at a south central university completed the survey, which consisted of four sections including the following: demographics, knowledge of SI, experiences with SI, and perceptions of SI.

The knowledge section of the survey contains a 20-item measure previously used by Jeffrey and Warm (2002). A knowledge score was created based on participants responses to these 20 items. This score was used in the analysis of both hypotheses one and two. Results indicate that participants have a poor understanding of SI, based on their mean knowledge score. In addition, results reveal that the current sample’s mean SI knowledge level is lower than seven of the seven groups' mean knowledge scores. Mean knowledge scores are significantly greater for individuals indicating experience with others who self-injure than individuals reporting no experience with others who self-injure as assessed through independent t tests. Descriptive information indicates that participants do not reject those who self-injure, but rather are supportive in peer relationships with others that engage in the behavior. However, participants indicate considerable confusion surrounding the behavior and are generally not accepting of the behavior, choosing to encourage cessation of the behavior. Limitations discussed include sample demographics, possibility for misinterpretation of survey items, and potential social desirability bias.


Developmental Psychology | Personality and Social Contexts | Psychology | Social Psychology