Thursday, March 15, 2012

Janelle L. Mason completes dissertation in the School of Psychology

Schemas, Empathy, and Intimate Partner Violence -- Janelle L. Mason

Janelle is a Research Associate at Eastern Virginia Medical School in the Neuropsychology Center, a division of the Department of Psychiatry in Norfolk, VA. She is training as a Clinical Neuropsychologist, both Adult and Pediatric Neuropsychology. 

In this study, it is proposed that increasingly unstable self-esteem (a construct conceptually highly similar to self-view schemas) will moderate the relationship between extreme schemas and IPV. Furthermore, it is postulated that empathy will serve as a mediator of the relationship between extreme schemas and IPV. In contrast, moderate schemas will predict mild or no violence and high levels of empathy will mediate this relationship. The results of the current study did not fully support the hypotheses, in that empathy did not mediate the relationship between extreme schemas and violence or between moderate schemas and no or mild violence. However, the results indicated that extreme negative schemas predicted severe violence and that this relationship was strengthened when empathy was low. Further, superior self-views predicted severe violence only when empathy was low but not by itself. Unstable self-esteem did not moderate the relationship between extreme positive schemas and violence but did predict violence by itself. Further, unstable self-esteem moderated the relationship between extreme negative schemas and severe violence by decreasing the likelihood that negative schemas predicted severe violence, rather than increasing it, as had been originally hypothesized. Implications for future research are discussed.

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