Personality and Individual Differences vol:82 pages:215-220
There is an increasing amount of research that examines non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) in relation to identity formation in adolescents. However, little or no research to date has explored associations between NSSI and identity distress in specific domains. To address this shortcoming, we assessed NSSI, identity distress, anxiety, and depression using self-report questionnaires in 568 high school students. Gender differences in NSSI were found with lifetime prevalence of NSSI being twice as high in females as compared to males. Gender differences in terms of identity domains were also significant; adolescent females showed higher levels of distress in the identity domains of career goals, friendship, and group loyalties as compared to males. Adolescents engaging in NSSI showed higher distress in domains of long-term goals, friendship, sexual orientation and behavior, values and beliefs. Results indicated that it was not distress in specific domains as such but the impairment due to daily impact of identity distress that explained additional variance in lifetime prevalence of NSSI above and beyond gender, age, depression, and anxiety. We also demonstrated that gender differences in lifetime prevalence of NSSI were mediated by differences in such identity impairment. Clinical implications of these findings are discussed.