, Volume 10, Issue 6, pp 607-623

Cognitive-affective interaction: A test of the “specificity” and “generality” hypotheses

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Abstract

Two correlational studies that investigated the “specificity” and “generality” hypotheses of cognitive-affective interaction are reported. Nonpsychiatric individuals were administered a questionnaire designed to assess the subjective experience of representative anxious and depressive thoughts across five parameters: frequency, sadness, worry, dismissal, and unacceptability. Thoughts of loss and failure evidenced a specific relation with self-reported depressed mood while, to a lesser extent, cognitions of harm and danger demonstrated their strongest association with anxiety. Presence of mild dysphoria was significantly and reliably predicted by cognitive factors. In addition to supporting Beck's cognitive theory of emotion, the results also suggest a number of variables that are influential in determining the strength of association between affect and cognition.

During the course of the research the author obtained support from the ORS Award Scheme of the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals of the Universities of the United Kingdom and a sponsorship from the Department of Health, Providence of New Brunswick, Canada. The research was conducted as part of the doctoral dissertion requirements of the University of London. I gratefully acknowledge the assistance of David Hemsley and Padmal de Silva, who supervised the research; David Hand, who provided statistical advice; and Aaron T. Beck, David Hemsley, Shelley Channon, and an anonymous reviewer, who offered very helpful comments on an earlier draft of this manuscript.