Date of Award

12-2012

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Major

Psychology

Major Professor

Jenny Macfie

Committee Members

Deborah P. Welsh, Derek R. Hopko

Abstract

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a chronic and severe psychological disorder with symptoms including fear of abandonment, negative relationships, and inappropriate expressions of anger. Individuals with BPD score higher on rejection sensitivity than do normative comparisons. The present study assessed rejection sensitivity in a sample at high risk for developing BPD—adolescent offspring of women with BPD. We hypothesized that adolescents whose mothers have BPD would have higher levels of rejection sensitivity than would normative comparisons, adolescents’ rejection sensitivity would be positively correlated with their mother’s borderline features, and adolescents’ rejection sensitivity would be positively correlated with their own borderline features. Levels of rejection sensitivity did not differ between adolescents who had mothers with BPD and normative comparisons, nor did the adolescents’ rejection sensitivity correlate with their mothers’ borderline features. The adolescents’ rejection sensitivity was, however, significantly correlated with their own report of negative relationships. Clinical implications are discussed.

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