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  • 2017BinsaleDClinPsy

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Self-concept clarity, trauma and psychopathology

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

  • Laura Binsale
Publication date2017
Number of pages246
Awarding Institution
  • Lancaster University
Original languageEnglish


Self-concept clarity (SCC) is defined as the “extent to which the contents of an individual's self-concept (e.g., perceived personal attributes) are clearly and confidently defined, internally consistent, and temporally stable” (Campbell et al., 1996, p.141). SCC is becoming an increasingly researched topic in relation to the onset and development of psychopathology. To date, there had been no systematic review addressing associations between SCC and psychopathology. Thus, Chapter 1 of the thesis aims to systematically identify, appraise and synthesise all available peer reviewed literature, which explored an association between SCC and psychopathology. The review includes twenty-two papers, which report on 29 individual studies, all of which explore a quantifiable relationship between SCC and psychopathology. Strong evidence was found to support an association between SCC and psychopathology in both clinical and non-clinical populations.
The empirical paper is reported in Chapter 2. This explores the relationship between adverse childhood experiences, SCC and psychopathology. Participants were allocated to one of three groups: psychosis (presence of psychotic experiences), anxiety/depression (moderate-severe levels of anxiety and/or depression) or control (no psychotic experiences and mild levels of anxiety/depression). Analyses revealed that participants in the psychosis and anxiety/depression groups reported significantly higher incidences of adverse childhood experiences compared to the control. Lower levels of SCC were associated with higher levels of depressive and anxious symptoms, congruent with the findings from the literature review. Levels of SCC did not significantly differ across the three groups.
The intricacy of SCC as a construct and its complex association with psychopathology was apparent throughout the process. In an attempt to conceptualise this relationship Chapter 3, the critical appraisal, discusses the similarities and differences between SCC and theoretically related concepts. Further clinical implications are discussed and identified limitations of the current research are considered citing recommendations for future research.