Skylar Karp

Date of Award


First Advisor

Anne O'Dwyer

Second Advisor

Jennifer Daniels


Nail biting is a fairly common behavior, especially in childhood, that if done excessively can result in both medical and dental problems. It can cause feelings of shame and even pain and infections in more severe cases. From a psychological perspective, nail biting is part of a broader class of what are called body-focused repetitive behaviors (BFRBs). A review of the literature revealed various possible causes of nail biting, as well as treatments--both clinical and non-clinical--for reducing the behavior. This study also analyzed an online discussion site for those struggling to stop biting their nails; a brief survey was also conducted. The survey results revealed that those who bite their nails also engage in other BFRBs, and--consistent with findings of prior research--that many bite their nails primarily out of anxiety and/or boredom. This report concludes with some suggestions for directions for future research into nail biting and other BFRBs.

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