Psychological profiles, including emotion regulation characteristics, defence strategies and mentalisation capacity, of male adolescents involved in fights among peers

BJPsych Open. 2023 Jan 26;9(1):e24. doi: 10.1192/bjo.2022.634.

Abstract

Background: Youth violence has become a worrying public health issue worldwide. In Europe and the USA, research has shown a prevalence of this phenomenon ranging from 30 to 70% in boys.

Aims: This descriptive study aimed to evaluate psychological profiles of male adolescents involved in fights with their peers.

Method: Identity consolidation was evaluated with the Self-Concept and Identity Measure; defence strategies were assessed by the Response Evaluation Measure for Youth; emotion regulation was assessed with the Difficulties in Emotion Regulation Scale and mentalisation capacity was evaluated by the Reflective Functioning Questionnaire.

Results: Through a series of multivariate analyses of variance, our results showed that adolescents reporting four or more fights in the past year, when compared with peers reporting none or fewer than four fights, displayed lower identity consolidation, greater use of immature defence strategies, poorer emotion regulation processes and poorer mentalisation capacity.

Conclusions: The results of this study could be useful for the promotion of prevention and intervention programmes to stem fights among adolescents.

Keywords: Youth violence; adolescents; community violence; mental health and violence; mentalising.