Date of Award

Spring 2019

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Chair

Daniel W. Capron

Committee Chair School


Committee Member 2

Michael D. Anestis

Committee Member 2 School


Committee Member 3

Stephanie D. Smith

Committee Member 3 School



Suicide is a health concern with 44,965 deaths in 2016. Typical assessment of risk factors relies on self-report, which can be susceptible to underreporting. As such, non-face valid measures and innovative assessment approaches such as implicit association tests may help identify risk factors by eliminating conscious underreporting. The Interpersonal-Psychological Theory of Suicidal Behavior is an empirically supported theory hypothesizing why individuals die by suicide. The theory comprises three elements: thwarted belongingness, perceived burdensomeness, and capability for suicide. Thwarted belongingness and perceived burdensomeness have been found to be non-face valid measures and less susceptible to conscious underreporting. Objective measures, such as Implicit Association Tests (IATs), can be used to attenuate the problems of self-report. Previous self-report studies have found that impulsivity and aggression interact to increase suicide risk, whereas other research does not. Additionally, other work has emphasized the need to examine lower order factors of impulsivity and aggression to more precisely determine this link. This study sought to add to the literature by examining if the interaction between aggression (relational, physical, and implicit) and negative urgency (a facet of impulsivity) is associated with suicidal desire (i.e., thwarted belongingness and perceived burdensomeness). I hypothesized that aggression would moderate this relationship and an increase in aggression would be associated with an increase in suicidal desire. The hypotheses were not supported, with non-significant results for all analyses. Exploratory analyses indicated that there was no correlation or association between the self-reported aggression and implicit aggression. The implications and the importance of utilizing multiple methodologies in research are discussed.

Included in

Psychology Commons