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Behavioural Risk of Bipolar Disorder in an Analogue Population: The Role of Cognitive, Developmental and Interpersonal Factors


Matthias Schwannauer, Section of Clinical Psychology, The University of Edinburgh, Teviot Place, Edinburgh, UK EH8 9AG.



Research to date has identified the contribution of a number of cognitive, developmental and interpersonal risk factors in the development of bipolar affective disorder. However, further work is needed to understand the mechanisms and interactions between these risk factors in relation to bipolar mood instability. The aim of this study is to explore the possibility of identifying high risk of bipolar disorder through cognitive and interpersonal factors and to further expand our knowledge regarding the relationship between such factors. The findings from this work demonstrate that when both cognitive and interpersonal variables are entered into one model to predict bipolar high risk, direct effects are observed for the interpersonal factors, which then have a fully mediational effect on the cognitive factors. This work proposes that interpersonal factors develop and maintain cognitive risk factors and that future formulations and treatment of bipolar disorder need to focus on addressing such interpersonal issues. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Key Practitioner Message

  • This study highlights the importance of the interpersonal context of mood dysregulation and the interaction of cognitive and interpersonal aspects of affect regulation.
  • The interpersonal context needs to be fully considered when investigating and working with individuals at risk of bipolar disorder.