Document Type



Audrey Zakriski

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This paper may only be accessed on the Connecticut College campus.


Impairments in interpersonal functioning and identity are two of the core features of borderline personality disorder. To what extent self-concept clarity contributes to the relationship between interpersonal dysfunction and BPD is not yet known. With the centrality of social media in people’s daily functioning, experiences of interpersonal dysfunction may very well occur on online platforms, but this context is not often studied with BPD yet. This study first sought to examine the interaction between BPD symptomatology and self-concept clarity in the context of a social media-based rejection stressor. It did so in a nonclinical sample, to develop a protocol that may be useful in future clinical studies. In an experimental study of emotional reactivity (objective and subjective) to simulated social rejection (social media based vs. not), it was found that individuals with higher BPD symptomatology showed greater psychophysiological reactivity to social rejection. Self-concept clarity did not moderate this pattern in the present study. Specific findings varied over reactivity measure and type of social rejection feedback, with social media-based rejection causing more reactivity in some cases. A secondary goal of the study was to assess how frequency of use of social media might make individuals more reactive to social media-based rejection. It was found that individuals with higher social media usage showed higher psychophysiological reactivity when a social media stressor was presented. Both sets of findings, captured different aspects of interpersonal functioning relevant to the context of social media use in people with borderline personality disorder symptoms. The results of this study may be useful to inform future research and treatment focused on interpersonal functioning and borderline symptoms, both in clinical and non-clinical samples.



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