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Title: Social cognition, attachment and emotional regulation in young adults leaving care
Author: Hollingworth, Paul
Awarding Body: Cardiff University
Current Institution: Cardiff University
Date of Award: 2014
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Deficits in social cognition are increasingly recognised as a core characteristic of many psychological problems, especially those characterised by emotional dysregulation. Compared to the general population, care-leavers are at a higher risk of experiencing mental health problems. However, there are no studies of social cognition in this population. This study sought to address this gap in the literature and investigate the relationship between adult romantic attachment style, social cognition and emotional regulation. Thirty care-leavers were recruited through social care teams and third sector organisations. A comparison group of 35 age and gender matched non-care leavers were recruited from a further education college. All participants completed the Experiences in Close Relationships scale, the Difficulties with Emotional Regulation Scale and the ‘Movie for Assessment of Social Cognition’ (MASC). Care-leavers were found to have significantly greater impairments in social cognition and emotional regulation. Specifically, care-leavers showed an increased tendency to over-interpret the mental states of others. The relationship between care-leaver status and emotional regulation was partially mediated by social cognition. This suggests that young people leaving care are more likely to over-interpret social signs in relational contexts, which gives rise to emotions that are difficult to control. In the combined sample, adult romantic attachment anxiety, but not avoidance, was associated with greater difficulties with emotional regulation and over-interpretative mental state inferences on the MASC. Social cognition did not mediate the relationship between attachment anxiety and emotional regulation scores, indicating that impaired social cognition and higher attachment anxiety are independent risk factors for emotional dysregulation in this population. The findings suggest that social cognitive style might be an appropriate target for therapeutic intervention in young people leaving care. Theoretical implications of the study findings are discussed and areas for future research are suggested.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Clin.Psy.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: BF Psychology