Association between childhood invalidation and borderline personality symptoms: Self-construal and conformity as moderating factors

Shian Ling Keng, Chang Yuan Soh

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13 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Linehan (1993)'s biosocial model posits that borderline personality disorder (BPD) symptoms develop as a result of a transactional relationship between pre-existing emotional vulnerability and an invalidating childhood environment. Little work, however, has investigated cultural factors that may influence the relationship between childhood invalidation and BPD symptoms. The present study investigated the association between parental invalidation and BPD symptoms, and the role of conformity and self-construal as potential moderators of this association. Methods: Two hundred and ninety undergraduate students were recruited from a large university in Singapore and administered questionnaires measuring Asian values, self-construal, parental invalidation, and BPD symptomatology. Results: Multiple regression analysis demonstrated a significant positive association between BPD symptoms and maternal invalidation. Moderation analyses revealed a 3-way interaction, indicating that the maternal invalidation and BPD symptoms association varied by degree of conformity and self-construal. Among participants with interdependent self-construal, maternal invalidation was associated with BPD symptoms only at high conformity levels. No significant moderating effect was found among participants with independent self-construal. Conclusions: Overall, the study found empirical support for aspects of Linehan's biosocial model in an Asian context, and has implications for developing a culturally-informed understanding of BPD.

Original languageEnglish
Article number19
Number of pages9
JournalBorderline Personality Disorder and Emotion Dysregulation
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 7 Dec 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Borderline personality disorder
  • Childhood invalidation
  • Conformity
  • Culture
  • Parenting
  • Self-construal

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