Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Clinical Psychology

First Advisor

Joan H. Liem

Second Advisor

Lizabeth Roemer

Third Advisor

Lois Choi-Kain


BPD is a heterogeneous disorder associated with a wide variety of symptoms (Yen et al., 2004). Acknowledging this heterogeneity, researchers have attempted to define core features that make up this disorder. Confirmatory factor analysis on a large sample of individuals diagnosed with BPD identifies affective dysregulation, disturbed relatedness, and behavioral dysregulation as three important aspects of BPD (Sanislow et al., 2002). Guided by a body of clinical and research literature on borderline personality disorder, this study utilized a college student sample to examine the relation between emotion regulation, interpersonal functioning, and behavioral dysregulation. This study also explores the process of mentalizing, and its relation to these variables. This study utilized a sample of 736 female college students to test the hypothesis that emotion dysregulation and interpersonal problems each mediated the relationship to behavioral dysregulation. A proxy of mentalizing was created by examining four overlapping constructs that have validated self-report measures (empathy, psychological mindedness, decentering, and affect consciousness), which was hypothesized to mediate the relationship between interpersonal problems and behavioral dysregulation. Results showed that emotion dysregulation mediated interpersonal problems and behavioral dysregulation, though interpersonal problems were not a significant mediator between emotion dysregulation and behavioral dysregulation. Mentalizing was not a significant mediator of interpersonal problems and behavioral dysregulation, though is was associated with behavioral dysregulation, BPD symptomatology, and avoidant attachment. These findings are consistent with past literature that suggests that emotion dysregulation is a core mechanism in BPD. The suitability of measuring mentalizing as a self-report measure is also discussed.


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