Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly. ~Proverb

The Study: 
An Exploratory Study of Personality Factors Related to Psychological Abuse and Gaslighting

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STUDY: The study has completed. The entire dissertation can be found on Proquest. Only the results, discussion, references, and gaslighting scale can be found in the below link.

ABSTRACT: This study reveals gaslighting as a subtle and covert type of emotional and psychological abuse. Gaslighting involves a varying cluster of manipulations used to undermine an intended target person’s reality and mental stability. The study uses the term gaslighter, the person who desires to maintain control, power, and a sense of being right in the relationship; and the term gaslightee, the one who unconsciously allows the gaslighter to define her sense of reality. This study explores the mechanisms of gaslighting as originating via the psychoanalytic processes of projective and defensive identification; both are unconscious processes. The effects of gaslighting tactics and behaviors causes the gaslightee to experience confusion, increasing self-doubt, diminished self-esteem, confusion, anxiety, depression, the urge to retreat, and can even provoke psychosis. While anecdotal in quality, extant research indicates intolerance of uncertainty, high sensory processing sensitivity, and neuroticism may be traits that render individuals vulnerable to experience gaslighting. The current study attempts to provide data regarding these possible traits that may lend one vulnerable to gaslighting. This was accomplished via a quasi-experimental correlational online survey design, with a sample of female participants (N = 40). Results indicate that gaslighting and other measures of psychological abuse are positively correlated. Further, when gaslight scores, measured via the Gaslight Questionnaire (GQ) were divided by median split, high levels of gaslighting were positively associated with high sensory processing sensitivity, the inhibitory anxiety subscale of intolerance for uncertainty, and neuroticism. This research has relevance for researchers, clinicians, and individuals who have suffered gaslighting. It provides an in-depth exploration of gaslighting, providing not only discussion for why it occurs, but how specific traits may lend vulnerability. It also provides a platform for future research regarding other contributing vulnerability factors that may be involved in gaslighting, and for the development of trait based recovery models from gaslighting and psychological abuse.



The purpose of this study was to investigate particular traits that may lend women vulnerable to gaslighting, a covert form of psychological and emotional abuse in intimate relationships. I hope that this study will contribute to the field’s understanding of gaslighting, a specific form of covert psychological and emotional abuse, and the individuals who experience it. With understanding, additional education and intervention can be developed. 

​The results of the study can be found in the attached pdf: RESULTS An Exploratory Study of Personality Factors Related to Psychological Abuse and Gaslighting.pdf