Cognitive Therapy and Research

, Volume 27, Issue 6, pp 657-669

First online:

Relationship Between Obsessive Beliefs and Obsessive–Compulsive Symptoms

  • David F. TolinAffiliated withUniversity of Connecticut School of Medicine Email author 
  • , Carol M. WoodsAffiliated withUniversity of North Carolina
  • , Jonathan S. AbramowitzAffiliated withMayo Clinic and Mayo Foundation

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The aim of this study was to examine the relationship between symptom presentation in obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD) and dysfunctional beliefs hypothesized to relate to OCD. Five-hundred sixty two undergraduates completed self-report measures of OCD symptoms and OCD-related beliefs, as well as measures of social anxiety and depression. The tendency to overestimate threat significantly predicted the OCD symptom domains of washing, checking/doubting, obsessing, mental neutralizing, and hoarding. Perceived need to control one's thoughts predicted obsessing. Perceived importance of thoughts predicted neutralizing. Perfectionism beliefs predicted ordering. Although the relationship between dysfunctional beliefs and OCD remained significant when controlling for social anxiety and depression, Threat Estimation and Perfectionism showed a moderate relationship with these variables as well. Thus, although some dysfunctional beliefs show a specific relationship to OCD, others may reflect broader forms of psychopathology.

obsessive–compulsive disorder cognitions beliefs subtypes