Year: 2021 Source: Archives of Suicide Research. (2021). 25(3), 390-405. SIEC No: 20210725

Nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI) is a complex behavior that serves many functions and may be motivated by several factors. Although previously limited to the context of personality disorders, consideration of how general personality traits might be related to NSSI warrants examination. Our aims were to investigate whether clusters based upon the Big Five personality traits exist among people who have engaged in NSSI, and explore systematic differences with regard to gender, age, key indicators of NSSI severity, functions of NSSI, emotional avoidance, alexithymia, psychological distress, and emotion regulation strategies. A sample of 236 university students (83% female, M age = 21.59, SD = 5.43) who had engaged in NSSI completed an anonymous online questionnaire. Cluster analysis yielded three subgroups who were characterized by tendencies for resilience, dysregulation, and disagreeableness. Resilient and dyregulated profiles fell within opposite ends of a continuum with regard to severity of NSSI, psychological distress and alexithymia, and adaptive vs less adaptive emotion regulation strategies. Dysregulated characteristics were also associated with affect regulation and self-punishment functions of NSSI. Disagreeable characteristics were associated with high alexithymia and psychological distress. Implications of these findings for theory and tailored treatment approaches to NSSI are discussed.