Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 45, Issue 8, pp 1560–1574 | Cite as

A Preliminary Application of Social Cognitive Theory to Nonsuicidal Self-Injury

  • Penelope Hasking
  • Alyssa Rose
Empirical Research


Researchers have established a relationship between exposure to nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI), and increased probability of engaging in the behavior, but few have endeavored to explain the mechanisms underlying the relationship. We drew on Social Cognitive Theory to argue that core cognitions, including NSSI outcome expectancies and self-efficacy expectancies, moderate this relationship. We also explored whether knowledge about NSSI and attitudes toward the behavior played a role in this relationship. A sample of 389 university students (73.1 % female, M age = 20.90, SD = 2.36), completed online questionnaires assessing the constructs of interest. Our findings support the application of Social Cognitive Theory to better understanding NSSI, with clear links between expectancies, self-efficacy and NSSI. Further, these cognitions moderated a number of exposure-NSSI relationships. Implications of these findings for theory, research and intervention are discussed.


NSSI Self-injury Expectancies Self-efficacy Attitudes Knowledge 


Author’s Contributions

P.H. conceptualised the study, oversaw data collection, analysed data and prepared sections of the written manuscript. A.R. collected data, provided intellectual input to the study and prepared sections of the written manuscript. All authors have read and approved the final manuscript.


This study was internally funded by The School of Psychology and Speech Pathology, Curtin University.

Conflict of interest

The authors report no conflicts of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the Curtin University Human Research Ethics Committee, the National Health and Medical Research Council’s National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Psychology and Speech PathologyCurtin UniversityPerthAustralia

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