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Development and validation of a self-report measure of mentalizing: The Reflective Functioning Questionnaire

Fonagy, P; Luyten, P; Moulton-Perkins, A; Lee, YW; Warren, F; Howard, S; Ghinai, R; ... Lowyck, B; + view all (2016) Development and validation of a self-report measure of mentalizing: The Reflective Functioning Questionnaire. PLoS One , 11 (7) , Article e0158678. 10.1371/journal.pone.0158678. Green open access

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Abstract

Reflective functioning or mentalizing is the capacity to interpret both the self and others in terms of internal mental states such as feelings, wishes, goals, desires, and attitudes. This paper is part of a series of papers outlining the development and psychometric features of a new self-report measure, the Reflective Functioning Questionnaire (RFQ), designed to provide an easy to administer self-report measure of mentalizing. We describe the development and initial validation of the RFQ in three studies. Study 1 focuses on the development of the RFQ, its factor structure and construct validity in a sample of patients with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and Eating Disorder (ED) (n=108) and normal controls (n=295). Study 2 aims to replicate these findings in a fresh sample of 129 patients with personality disorder and 281 normal controls. Study 3 addresses the relationship between the RFQ, parental reflective functioning and infant attachment status as assessed with the Strange Situation Procedure (SSP) in a sample of 136 community mothers and their infants. In both Study 1 and 2, confirmatory factor analyses yielded two factors assessing Certainty (RFQ_C) and Uncertainty (RFQ_U) about the mental states of self and others. These two factors were relatively distinct, invariant across clinical and non-clinical samples, had satisfactory internal consistency and test–retest stability, and were largely unrelated to demographic features. The scales discriminated between patients and controls, and were significantly and in theoretically predicted ways correlated with measures of empathy, mindfulness and perspective-taking, and with both self-reported and clinician-reported measures of borderline personality features and other indices of maladaptive personality functioning. Furthermore, the RFQ scales were associated with levels of parental reflective functioning, which in turn predicted infant attachment status in the SSP. Overall, this study lends preliminary support for the RFQ as a screening measure of reflective functioning. Further research is needed, however, to investigate in more detail the psychometric qualities of the RFQ.

Type: Article
Title: Development and validation of a self-report measure of mentalizing: The Reflective Functioning Questionnaire
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0158678
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0158678
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright: © 2016 Fonagy et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Keywords: Reflective functioning, Mentalizing, Social cognition, Borderline personality disorder, Eating disorder, Attachment
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
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
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
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1502414
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