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    Developing the Implicit Relational Assessment Procedure (IRAP) to Assess Evaluations of Death Within Suicidality

    Hussey, Ian (2015) Developing the Implicit Relational Assessment Procedure (IRAP) to Assess Evaluations of Death Within Suicidality. PhD thesis, National University of Ireland Maynooth.

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    Over the last fifty years, psychological science can be credited with persistent efforts to prevent and treat suicidal behaviours. However, the utility of such interventions is often moderated by the ability to identity individuals who are likely to engage in suicidal behaviors ahead of time. Less progress has been made on this front; the ability to accurately predict such behaviors at an individual level remains limited. Recent evidence suggests that this may be due in part to the field’s reliance on self-report measures. One promising avenue that has emerged in recent years is the objective behavioural tasks referred to as “implicit measures”, which have shown greater promising predictive validity relative to existing risk factors derived from self-report measures. The current body of research sought to expand on these findings and, specifically, to explore implicit evaluations of death in both normative and suicidal individuals using the Implicit Relational Assessment Procedure (IRAP). This thesis begins with a systematic review of the literature on implicit measures and suicide. Based on the conclusions of this review, five analogue studies were conducted exploring implicit studies to death in normative student populations. Two further experiments developed a novel experimental methodology (i.e., manipulations of the IRAP’s “contrast category”) in order to facilitate a more detailed understanding of what drives effects on the measure. A final experiment compared implicit death-evaluations on the IRAP between psychiatric patients with current suicidal ideation and normative controls. All studies presented participants with one or more implicit measures (IRAP and IAT) and a number of self-report measures. Generically, the IRAP presents participants with four category pairings (e.g., “life-positive”, “life-negative”, “death-positive”, and “death-negative”), and compares the relative ease with which they respond to these pairings with “true” relative to “false”. The difference in mean response-latency between the two response options is referred to as an implicit bias. Together, these studies allowed for a more detailed interrogation of how death is evaluated between individuals with and without a history of suicidal behaviours than was previously possible. Specifically, across studies, results demonstrated the IRAP’s ability to isolate specific implicit biases between categories, relative to other measures. The results from the analogue studies were used to development and assess a death-evaluation IRAP that is sensitive to mortality salience. A final experiment to conclude that suicidal ideation was found to be associated with a specific rejection of the negativity (i.e., fearlessness) of death. Results across studies indicate that differential patterns of implicit bias between normative individuals and suicidal ideators were attributable to suicidality specifically rather than the salience of mortality more generally, thereby providing a degree of construct validity for death-evaluations on the IRAP. Importantly, these effects are consistent with leading theories of suicide (e.g., Interpersonal Theory and Integrated Motivational-Volitional model), and are in line with our stated goal to attempt to ground the effects found on implicit measures more closely with existing theory. Overall, results suggest that the assessment of implicit death-evaluations on the IRAP represents a good candidate for future research on the prospective prediction of suicidal behaviours.

    Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
    Keywords: Developing; Implicit Relational Assessment Procedure; IRAP; Assess Evaluations; Death Within Suicidality;
    Academic Unit: Faculty of Science and Engineering > Psychology
    Item ID: 7781
    Depositing User: IR eTheses
    Date Deposited: 18 Jan 2017 16:31
      Use Licence: This item is available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike Licence (CC BY-NC-SA). Details of this licence are available here

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