Alliance and Suicide Prevention Lab

Graduate Students

Undergraduate Honors Thesis Projects

Equifinality and Multifinality in Psychopathology: Can Cognitive and Emotional Processes Differentiate Internalizing, Externalizing, and Co-Occurring Psychopathology

By Brittany Jordan-Arthur, M.A.

A Masters Thesis Defended in 2015

Project Overview

Despite our knowledge of environmental risk factors for psychopathology, the equifinality and multifinality observed in the extant literature reveals how little is known about the role of these risk factors in the development of psychopathology. The purpose of this study was to identify processes that differentiate internalizing, externalizing and co-occurring psychopathology. Specifically, emotion identification skill and cognitive appraisal style were examined as processes where individual differences may contribute to the development of mental illness. To date no study has been conducted to examine whether emotion identification and appraisal style may differentiate forms of internalizing, externalizing and co-occurring psychopathology and lack of clinically significant problems in one study. A better understanding of predictors or processes that differentiate forms of psychopathology may improve our understanding of developmental psychopathology as well as inform prevention and intervention efforts. One hundred and fifty eight participants were included in this study. Data supported emotion identification skill as important for predicting specific behavioral problem profiles. Implications for conceptualizations of psychopathology and directions for future studies are discussed.