Date of Award

Spring 2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Psychology and Behavioral Sciences

First Advisor

Donna Thomas


The current study extends the application of Personality Systems Interactions (PSI) theory (Kuhl, 2000b) to the distinction between Nonsuicidal Self-injury (NSSI) and Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) by examining the effect of State Orientation (Kuhl, 1994) on emotion dysregulation, BPD, and NSSI. Participants were recruited using social media and internet-based snowball techniques. Participants were directed to a web-based survey consisting of a demographic questionnaire, the Action Control Scale -24 (ACS-24; Kuhl, 1994; Kuhl & Fuhrmann, 1998), the Difficulties in Emotion Regulation Scale (DERS; Gratz & Roemer, 2004; Gratz and Roemer, 2008), the McLean Screening Instrument for Borderline Personality Disorder (MSI-BPD; Zanarini et al., 2003), and the Inventory of Statements About Self-injury (ISAS; Klonsky & Glenn, 2009; Klonsky & Olino, 2008). Path analysis was used to test a mediation model in which State Orientation had direct effects on emotion dysregulation, BPD symptoms, and NSSI behaviors, and indirect effects on BPD symptoms and NSSI behaviors through emotion dysregulation. The hypothesized model suggested the relationship between BPD symptoms and NSSI behaviors is mediated by the total effects specified in the model. Results indicated that the specified model demonstrated marginal model-data correspondence and was not supported. The retained model (a theory consistent model) depicted direct effects of State Orientation on emotion dysregulation, but not on BPD symptoms or NSSI behaviors. However, results indicated an indirect effect of State Orientation on BPD symptoms and NSSI behaviors. These findings are consistent with previous research suggesting that NSSI may be a distinct disorder, specifically, separate from BPD. Future research should attempt to replicate the findings of the current study and/or test the originally proposed model with alternate populations (e.g., undergraduate college students, clinical samples of various ages, and youth). Additionally, future research should incorporate other aspects of PSI theory into the NSSI and BPD literature. Clinical implications include early identification and subsequent intervention, as well as improved conceptualization of client characteristics.