Do automatic self-associations relate to suicidal ideation?

K.A. Glashouwer, P.J. de Jong, B.W.J.H. Penninx, A.J.F.M. Kerkhof, R. van Dyck

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Dysfunctional self-schemas are assumed to play an important role in suicidal ideation. According to recent information-processing models, it is important to differentiate between 'explicit' beliefs and automatic associations. Explicit beliefs stem from the weighting of propositions and their corresponding 'truth' values, while automatic associations reflect more simple associations in memory. Both types of associations are assumed to have different functional properties and both may be involved in suicidal ideation. Thus far, studies into self-schemas and suicidal ideation focused on the more explicit, consciously accessible traces of self-schemas and predominantly relied on self-report questionnaires or interviews. To complement these 'explicit' findings and more directly tap into self-schemas, this study investigated automatic self-associations in a large scale community sample that was part of the Netherlands Study of Depression and Anxiety (NESDA). The results showed that automatic self-associations of depression and anxiety were indeed significantly related to suicidal ideation and past suicide attempt. Moreover, the interactions between automatic self-depressive (anxious) associations and explicit self-depressive (anxious) beliefs explained additional variance over and above explicit self-beliefs. Together these results provide an initial insight into one explanation of why suicidal patients might report difficulties in preventing and managing suicidal thoughts. © 2009 The Author(s).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)428-437
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2010


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