The interplay of mentalization and epistemic trust: a protective mechanism against emotional dysregulation in adolescent internalizing symptoms

Submitted: July 8, 2023
Accepted: November 5, 2023
Published: December 31, 2023
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Mentalization is the ability to interpret actions as caused by intentional mental states. Moreover, mentalization facilitates the development of epistemic trust (ET), namely, the ability to evaluate social information as accurate, reliable, and relevant. Recent theoretical literature identifies mentalization as a protective factor, contrasting psychopathology and emotional dysregulation. However, few investigations have explored the concurrent associations between mentalization, ET and emotion dysregulation in the context of internalizing problems in adolescence. In the present study, 482 adolescents from the general population aged between 12 and 19 were assessed with the epistemic trust mistrust credulity questionnaire, the reflective functioning questionnaire- youth, the difficulties in emotion regulation scale, and the youth self-report. We tested the relationship between the variables through serial mediation models. Results showed that mentalization reduces internalizing problems via emotional dysregulation; ET is positively associated with mentalization but not symptomatology. Finally, both epistemic mistrust and epistemic credulity are significantly associated with internalizing symptomatology; those effects are mediated differently by difficulties in emotional regulation. In conclusion, the present study confirms mentalization’s role as a protective factor in developmental psychopathology. Nevertheless, exploring the role of the different epistemic stances guarantees a better understanding of psychopathological pathways in adolescence.

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How to Cite

Parolin, L., Milesi, A., Comelli, G., & Locati, F. (2023). The interplay of mentalization and epistemic trust: a protective mechanism against emotional dysregulation in adolescent internalizing symptoms. Research in Psychotherapy: Psychopathology, Process and Outcome, 26(3). https://doi.org/10.4081/ripppo.2023.707

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