Understanding Perceptions of Nonsuicidal Self-Injury: Descriptive and Injunctive Norms

Jiwon Min, Susanna V. Lopez, Delaney S. Dunn, Thad R. Leffingwell, Stephanie N. Mullins-Sweatt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI) is a major public health concern. Web-based personalized feedback interventions (PFIs) may be a cost-effective and efficient way to treat NSSI. In order to develop a PFI, it is imperative to assess descriptive and injunctive norms. The current study examines descriptive and injunctive norms of NSSI within college students and adults in the community, comparing how perceived norms may differ for those who do or do not engage in NSSI. Study 1 calculated percentages of NSSI behavior within the student sample. Study 2 then examined perceived descriptive and injunctive norms between those with and without history of NSSI in both samples. Study 1 indicated that 19% of undergraduate students had histories of NSSI. Additionally, there was a general tendency to overestimate the percentage of people who engage in NSSI and the number of times a typical person engages in NSSI. Finally, those who engaged in NSSI believed that most people do not understand why individuals engage in NSSI; comparatively, the majority of people without history of NSSI still indicated that they understand why others would engage in NSSI. These research findings may be utilized in a PFI to reduce shame and NSSI behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1657-1671
Number of pages15
JournalPsychiatric Quarterly
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • Descriptive norms
  • Injunctive norms
  • Nonsuicidal self-injury
  • Personalized feedback intervention


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