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Adolescence in lockdown: The protective role of mentalizing and epistemic trust

Locati, Francesca; Milesi, Alberto; Conte, Federica; Campbell, Chloe; Fonagy, Peter; Ensink, Karin; Parolin, Laura; (2023) Adolescence in lockdown: The protective role of mentalizing and epistemic trust. Journal of Clinical Psychology (In press).

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Abstract

Objective: Mentalizing is the ability to interpret one’s own and others’ behavior as driven by intentional mental states. Epistemic trust (openness to interpersonally transmitted information) has been associated with mentalizing. Balanced mentalizing abilities allow people to cope with external and internal stressors. Studies show that social isolation imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic was highly stressful for most people, especially for adolescents. Here we examine whether mentalizing and epistemic trust were protective factors in relation to emotional distress during the lockdown. Method: A total of 131 non-clinical adolescents, aged between 12 and 18 years, were evaluated during the lockdown using the Reflective Functioning Questionnaire for Youth, Inventory of Parent and Peer Attachment, Perceived Stress Scale, and Difficulties in Emotion Regulation Scale. Results: Results from network analysis showed that epistemic trust and mentalizing were negatively associated with perceived stress and emotion dysregulation. Epistemic trust in fathers was associated with level of perceived stress, and epistemic trust in mothers with emotion dysregulation. Conclusion: These findings suggest that epistemic trust and the capacity to mentalize were low in adolescents during lockdown, and this was associated with high levels of stress. However, robust levels of epistemic trust and mentalizing may have acted as protective factors that buffered individuals from the risk of emotional dysregulation during the lockdown.

Type: Article
Title: Adolescence in lockdown: The protective role of mentalizing and epistemic trust
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Mentalizing, Adolescence, Epistemic trust, COVID-19, Lockdown
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Clinical, Edu and Hlth Psychology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10156954
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