The Association Between Juvenile Female Firesetting, Attachment Style, and Trauma-related Beliefs

Date of Award


Document Type

Doctoral Research Paper

Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Graduate School of Professional Psychology

First Advisor

Lavita Nadkarni

Second Advisor

Kimberly A. Gorgens

Third Advisor

Brad Jackson


Firesetting, Adolescent firesetting, Female adolescents, Trauma related beliefs, Attachment styles


The present study investigated the association between juvenile female firesetting behaviors, trauma-related beliefs and attachment style. One of the aims of this study was to investigate whether traumatic experiences, and trauma-related beliefs about self and other, increase the risk for engagement in firesetting behaviors. Given the link between parenting and family factors and juvenile maladaptive behaviors (Ryder, 2007; Lambie & Randell, 2011), this study also aimed to investigate the relationship between disruptions in attachment and relationship difficulties and female firesetting behaviors. The 97 participants included females aged six to 18 years who underwent a psychological assessment for firesetting at a specialized private psychological practice. Correlational analyses indicated no significant relationship between trauma-related beliefs scores and attachment styles scores, regardless of the amount of fires set. Interestingly, analysis of descriptive statistics indicated almost half to more than half of the participants obtained t-scores in the clinically significant range on rule-breaking, aggressive behavior, internalizing, and externalizing behaviors. It may be the combination of internalizing distress paired with the tendency to engage in externalizing behaviors, which contribute to juvenile female firesetting. Additionally, a quarter to a third of participants were found to have disruptions in all areas pertaining to relationships with others and a high portion of participants perceived themselves as having difficulties developing and maintaining interpersonal relationships. The findings of this study showed the complex psychological and psychosocial needs of juvenile female firesetters. Further research is needed to continue expanding our knowledge of specific risk and protective factors related to juvenile female firesetting.

Publication Statement

Copyright held by the author. Permanently suppressed.


32 pgs

This document is currently not available here.