Date of Award

Summer 8-19-2022

Level of Access Assigned by Author

Open-Access Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Rebecca Schwartz-Mette

Second Committee Member

Mollie Ruben

Third Committee Member

Emily A. P. Haigh

Additional Committee Members

Cynthia A. Erdley

Rebecca K. MacAulay


The current project considered the role of inhibitory control and mentalizing as vulnerability factors for engagement in excessive reassurance seeking, negative feedback seeking, and conversational self-focus among a sample of 222 older adolescents. It was hypothesized that lower levels of both inhibitory control and mentalizing would exacerbate the effect of elevated depressive symptoms on higher levels of the three interpersonal behaviors. Additional analyses further explored the role of self-reported gender identity. Models tested inhibitory control and mentalizing separately. In assessing inhibitory control, a self-report measure of impulsivity was used as a proxy for inhibitory control, and the Go/No-Go task was used as a behavioral measure of inhibitory control. In measuring mentalizing, a self-report measure of social perspective-taking and a behavioral task for emotion recognition were used. Support for associations between these two vulnerability factors and the three conversational behaviors was generally observed; however, these associations were not consistently in the expected direction. Results suggested that under conditions of low impulsivity (i.e., low levels of difficulty with inhibitory control), depressive symptoms were associated with more negative feedback seeking; under conditions of high impulsivity (i.e., high levels of difficulty with inhibitory control), depressive symptoms were associated with less conversational self-focus; and under conditions of both high and low levels of social perspective taking (i.e., mentalizing), depressive symptoms were associated with more excessive reassurance seeking. Although gender did not further impact the hypothesized moderation models, some mean-level gender differences and main effects of gender on interpersonal behavior were observed. Potential implications for interventions that target inhibitory control and mentalizing are discussed, and directions for future research are explored.