Nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI) is highly prevalent among late adolescents and predicts the onset of suicidal ideation and behavior. Although research has established an association between the behavioral approach system (BAS) and NSSI, less research has explored mechanisms underlying this relationship. The authors examined negative and positive emotion regulation patterns, as well as the BAS-relevant cognitive style of self-criticism, as potential mechanisms through which a hypersensitive BAS might be related to NSSI frequency. Late adolescents (N = 177) with high and moderate BAS levels completed measures of self-criticism, positive emotion regulation, brooding, and both lifetime and last-year frequency of NSSI. Results indicated that self-criticism and positive emotion dampening independently mediated the relationship between BAS and last-year frequency of NSSI. Self-criticism also mediated the relationship between BAS and lifetime frequency of NSSI. Results suggest that cognitive and emotion-regulatory styles may help to explain why high BAS individuals are likely to engage in NSSI.
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