Doctorate in Clinical Psychology : Main Research Portfolio
: 1) Psychological Interventions for Managing Chronic and Neuropathic Pain in Multiple Sclerosis: An Evaluative Review; 2) Exploring Knowledge and Beliefs about Nutrition in Adults with Cystic Fibrosis ;3) Autism Identity and Collective Self-Esteem – An Exploration of Content and Impact.

  • Rosalind Cooper

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Clinical Psychology (DClinPsy)


Background: Research suggests that people with Autism experience a higher rate of mental health difficulties and lower self-esteem compared to people without Autism. The experience of adverse events, such as a high rate of stigma, may partly account for these differences. Resilience is defined as the ability to respond adaptively to negative events, with positive outcomes for mental health and self-esteem. However, it has received little research attention within Autism. Previous research suggests that social identity and collective self-esteem may have a positive impact on self-esteem and resilience, but the irrelevance within Autism is largely unknown. The present study aimed to investigate the features and attributes that comprise an Autism social identity and to examine the relationships between this with collective self-esteem, resilience and individual self esteem. Given the potential for important differences, this was only explored in individuals without intellectual disabilities. Methods: 140 participants completed a series of measures via an online survey, including the contribution of information on the content of Autism identity. This was then rated and evaluated by four focus groups. Results: The top ten traits of Autism social identity were identified and explored. Collective self-esteem was positively associated with resilience and Autism social identity was associated with resilience when mediated by collective self-esteem. Conclusions: The findings expand current understandings of how people with ASD view their social identity as a person with Autism and highlight the importance of collective self-esteem as a determinate for resilience. Clinical and research implications are discussed.
Date of Award15 Sept 2017
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorCathy Randle-Phillips (Supervisor), Paul Salkovskis (Supervisor), Ailsa Russell (Supervisor), Kate Cooper (Supervisor) & Laura G. E. Smith (Supervisor)

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