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Date of Award

Winter 2020


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Document Type

Thesis: EWU Only

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS) in Psychology: General/Experimental




Borderline Personality Disorder is marked by emotion dysregulation, negative affect, and fear of abandonment, among other symptoms. Current statistics show females comprise 75% of the BPD population. Studies on BPD have found evidence indicating an association between traits of the disorder and the gene mono oxidase A (MAOA). Specifically, a positive association was found between MAOA-H and the presence of BPD traits when childhood maltreatment was experienced. The current study sought to expand past research that used female participants because thus far research on female samples exploring the MAOA gene have been limited. The present study investigated the moderating effect of the MAOA gene on childhood maltreatment’s association with borderline personality traits and emotion dysregulation. I predicted that the relationship would be stronger for MAOA-H than for MAOA-L participants, and the relationship for MAOA-H and MAOA-M participants would not be distinguishable. Using PROCESS, a Model 1 moderation regression was run to examine the potential interactive effects between childhood maltreatment (continuous variable) and MAOA genotype (3 level variable) on borderline traits. The same was done for emotion dysregulation. Contrary to iv predictions, the overall childhood maltreatment and MAOA interaction on both borderline traits and emotion dysregulation were nonsignificant. There were main effects of childhood maltreatment on borderline traits, which supports past studies that found that those who experienced childhood maltreatment were more likely to develop emotion dysregulation and borderline traits over time. However, the MAOA gene may not play a moderating role as previously expected. I discuss the prospect of further examining the effects of specific subcomponents of childhood maltreatment given supplemental analyses suggested that some may carry more weight than others.