Thwarted Belongingness in Relation to Face-to-Face and Online Interactions

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Abstract

Suicide is ranked as the tenth leading cause of death for all ages in the United States (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2012). Joiner's (2005) interpersonal theory of suicide stated thwarted belongingness—the feeling of being alienated from others—and perceived burdensomeness—the feeling of being a liability to others—are the primary proximal factors leading to suicidal desire. The current study focused on thwarted belongingness and examined its relationship to face-to-face interactions and online interactions in both an undergraduate and community sample. We hypothesized that negative face-to-face and online interactions would be independently associated with higher levels of thwarted belongingness. Furthermore, we hypothesized that face-to-face interactions would moderate the relationship between online interactions and thwarted belongingness and that online interactions would moderate the relationship between face-to-face interactions and thwarted belongingness. Three hundred eighty-seven participants (79.6% female) at a southern university and 209 (62.7% male) participants recruited from Amazon's Mechanical Turk website completed an online survey. Results only partially supported hypotheses, with only face-to-face interactions shown to be independently related to higher levels of thwarted belongingness. These findings indicated that negative face-to-face interactions may contribute to higher levels of risk factors for suicide ideation and highlighted the importance of assessing for negative interactions across all contexts.

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