Nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI) is a severe problem, and its prevalence is increasing. To aid prevention and treatment, there is an urgent need for evidence-based measures to identify individuals at risk for NSSI. Measures that probe past NSSI are most promising, but people are often motivated to conceal NSSI behavior. This problem can be overcome by using implicit measures, which do not require individuals to self-report on their behavior. Yet, prior research typically found weak predictive utility of implicit measures. Based on a new perspective on implicit measures and recent findings in NSSI research, we developed an Implicit Association Test that probes past NSSI (the P-NSSI-IAT).
We report two preregistered studies (N = 83; N = 372) in which we tested the utility of the P-NSSI-IAT to detect past NSSI and predict NSSI one month later.
P-NSSI-IAT scores (a) differentiated injury groups from non-injury groups and (b) prospectively predicted NSSI and improved prediction above and beyond risk factors of NSSI.
These initial findings suggest that the P-NSSI-IAT is a promising tool for NSSI risk assessment. Future studies should further examine the predictive utility of this newly developed measure for NSSI behavior.