Introspectiveness during adolescence : an investigation of a personality trait and its relationship with psychological well-being : a thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Clinical Psychology, Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand

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Massey University
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Historically, introspectiveness as a personality trait has been treated as a uni-dimensional and simplistic process that operates the same way for everyone. Consequently, the relationship between introspectiveness and psychological well-being has been treated as equally simplistic and universally uniform. This is in spite of research examining other self-focus processes suggesting that this relationship is likely to be considerably more complex. Therefore, the aim of this thesis was to explore introspectiveness more thoroughly and broadly than prior research has, in order to more adequately understand this complex phenomenon and its relationship with psychological well-being. An adolescent sample group was selected given the propensity for introspectiveness during this developmental period. The first study investigated a 12-item introspection instrument (Hansell, Mechanic and Brondolo, 1986, Introspection Scale) to ascertain whether there are distinct types of introspection embedded within it, and whether they would be associated with different types and amounts of self-reported symptoms. A factor analysis revealed three reasonably distinct factors or ‘types’ of introspection, which were identified as Self Analysis, Egocentrism, and Psychological Awareness. These broad types of introspection, as well as individual items on the Introspection scale, were associated with differing types and amounts of self-reported problems, providing support for the hypothesis that introspectiveness is a multi-faceted process with varying implications. In particular, some aspects of Psychological Awareness were generally associated with adaptive attributes, and Self Analysis (or reflecting on the ‘whys’ of life) was associated with problematic attributes. Investigating how these types of introspection relate to emotional symptoms in the context of three important psychological resources (mindfulness, cognitive flexibility and emotional clarity), was investigated in a second study. Path analysis techniques were used to examine these relationships. Support was found for an indirect relationship between introspection and emotional symptoms, through the three psychological resources. This suggested that the relationship between introspection and psychological well-being depends on other intrapersonal or contextual factors, and that therefore, adaptive levels of psychological resources may influence the relationship between introspection and psychological well-being. The implications of this research for both empirical understanding of cognitive processes potentially specific to adolescence, as well as broader clinical and therapy contexts, are discussed.
Adolescent psychology, Adolescent wellbeing, Introspection, Introspection in adolescence, Personality traits, Personality in adolescence, Psychological wellbeing