Date of Award

Spring 4-25-2022

Document Type

Honors Project

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science


Psychological Science

Department Chair or Program Director

Dr. Miriam Liss

First Advisor

Dr. Erin Palmwood

Second Advisor

Dr. Miriam Liss

Third Advisor

Dr. Christine McBride

Major or Concentration



Individuals with borderline personality disorder (BPD) often perceive relationship threats more intensely, resulting in increased emotional reactivity. However, this link has never been examined with physiological measures in “real time,” nor have reports of perceived parental rejection ever been investigated as a potential moderator of this link. To fill this gap, the present study induced romantic relationship threat, after which participants completed an emotional reactivity task while electroencephalography data were recorded. Results reveal that higher levels of BPD features were associated with increased emotional reactivity, indicated by larger late positive potential (LPP) amplitudes, to negative stimuli in the face of a romantic relationship threat. Results also indicate that perceived parental rejection moderates said link, in that individuals with high BPD features and high perceived parental rejection have decreased emotional reactivity to negative stimuli following a relationship threat. Findings have implications for treatment of BPD clients who have experienced parental rejection in childhood, as well as implications for couples’ counseling in the face of relationship threat.