Journal of Rational Emotive Therapy

, Volume 5, Issue 4, pp 238–254 | Cite as

Irrational beliefs in the articulated thoughts of college students with social anxiety

  • Gerald C. Davison
  • Vivien Zighelboim


Cognitive conceptualizations of social anxiety emphasize the role of negative self-statements, unrealistic expectations, and irrational beliefs in the development and maintenance of anxiety in social-evaluative situations. Research into these cognitive factors has entailed administration of questionnaires and instructions to subjects to write down their thoughts during a preceding or impending real-life encounter. These methodologies are criticized on several grounds, such as their assessment of abstract, generalized views by the subject of his/her typical way of thinking over a broad range of circumstances; constraints on responses because of experimenter-provided alternatives; and delays between the eliciting events and self-talk such that recall is subject to distortion and forgetting. Reported here is the use of a recently developed paradigm for uncovering thoughts in complex social situations. In the articulated thoughts during simulated situations method, subjects role-play participation in an audiotaped interpersonal encounter and, at predetermined points, verbalize thoughts elicited by a short segment of the fictitious event. The think-aloud data are taped for later content analysis. The purpose of this study was to explore the relationship between irrational beliefs and social anxiety. Results confirm those of two previous related experiments in that subjects articulated thoughts of greater irrationality when confronted with a stressful social-evaluative situation than with a neutral one. In addition, individuals with a tendency to become anxious in social situations articulated more irrational thoughts than did control subjects, confirming the basic assumption of cognitive-behavioral approaches that certain paterns of unrealistic thinking are associated with psychological distress.


Psychological Distress Social Anxiety Social Situation Cognitive Factor Irrational Belief 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Bandura, A. (1977). Self-efficacy: Toward a unifying theory of behavioral change.Psychological Review, 84, 191–215.Google Scholar
  2. Beck, A. T. (1967).Depression: Clinical, experimental and theoretical aspects. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.Google Scholar
  3. Beck, A. T., Rush, A. J., Shaw, B. F., & Emery, G. (1979).Cognitive therapy of depression: A treatment manual. New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  4. Bernstein, D. A., & Paul, G. L. (1971). Some comments on therapy analogue research with small animal “phobias.”Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 2, 225–237.Google Scholar
  5. Borkovec, T. D., & O'Brien, G. T. (1976). Methodological and target behavior issues in analogue therapy outcome research. In M. Hersen, R. M., Eisler, & P. M. Miller (Eds.),Progress in behavior modification (Vol. 3). New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  6. Cacioppo, J. T., Glass, C. R., & Merluzzi, T. V. (1979). Self-statements and self-evaluations: A cognitive-response analysis of heterosocial anxiety.Cognitive Therapy and Research, 3, 249–262.Google Scholar
  7. Campbell, D., & Fiske, D. (1959). Convergent and discriminant validation by the multitrait-multimethod matrix.Psychological Bulletin, 56, 81–106.Google Scholar
  8. Craighead, W. E., Kimball, W. H., & Rehak, P. J. (1977). Mood changes, physiological responses and self-statements during social rejection imagery.Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 84, 140–157.Google Scholar
  9. Curran, J. P. (1977). Skills training as an approach to the treatment of heterosexual social anxiety.Psychological Bulletin, 84, 140–157.Google Scholar
  10. Davison, G. C. (1966). Differential relaxation and cognitive restructuring in therapy with a “paranoid schizophrenic” or “paranoid state.”Proceedings of the 74th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.Google Scholar
  11. Davison, G. C., Feldman, P. M., & Osborn, C. E. (1984). Articulated thoughts, irrational beliefs, and fear of negative evaluation.Cognitive Therapy and Research, 8, 349–362.Google Scholar
  12. Davison, G. C., Robins, C., & Johnson, M. K. (1983). Articulated thoughts during simulated situations: A paradigm for studying cognition in emotion and behavior.Cognitive Therapy and Research, 7, 17–40.Google Scholar
  13. Derry, P. A., & Stone, G. L. (1979). Effects of cognitive adjunct treatments on assertiveness.Cognitive Therapy and Research, 3, 213–221.Google Scholar
  14. Dollard, J., & Miller, N. E. (1950).Personality and psychotherapy. New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  15. Ellis, A. (1962).Reason and emotion in psychotherapy. Secaucus, NJ: Lyle Stuart.Google Scholar
  16. Ellis, A. (1977). The basic clinical theory of rational-emotive therapy. In A. Ellis, & R. Grieger (Eds.), Handbook ofrational-emotive therapy. New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  17. Ellis, A., & Bernard, M. (1985).Clinical applications of RET. New York: Plenum.Google Scholar
  18. Ericsson, K. A., & Simon, H. A. (1981). Sources of evidence on cognition: A historical overview. In T. V. Merluzzi, C. R. Glass, & M. Genest (Eds.),Cognitive assessment. New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
  19. Glass, C. R., & Merluzzi, T. V. (1981). Cognitive assessment of social-evaluative anxiety. In T. V. Merluzzi, C. R. Glass, & M. Genest (Eds.),Cognitive assessment. New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
  20. Goldfried, M. R., & Davison, G. C. (1976).Clinical behavior therapy. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston.Google Scholar
  21. Goldfried, M. R., & Sobocinski, D. (1975). Effects of irrational beliefs on emotional arousal.Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 43, 504–510.Google Scholar
  22. Gormally, J., Sipps, G., Raphael, R., Edwin, D., & Varvil-Weld, D. (1981). The relationship between maladaptive cognitions and social anxiety.Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 49, 300–301.Google Scholar
  23. Halford, K., & Foddy, M. (1982). Cognitive and social skills correlates of social anxiety.British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 21, 17–28.Google Scholar
  24. Hollon, S. D., & Kendall, P. C. (1980). Cognitive self-statements in depression: Development of an automatic thoughts questionnaires.Cognitive Therapy and Research, 4, 383–395.Google Scholar
  25. Jones, R. G. (1969).A factored measure of Ellis's irrational belief system with personality and maladjustment correlates. (Doctoral Dissertation, Texas Technological College, 1968).Dissertation Abstracts International, 69, 6443.Google Scholar
  26. Kanter, N. J., & Goldfried, M. R. (1979). Relative effectiveness of rational restructuring and self-control desensitization for the reduction of interpersonal anxiety.Behavior Therapy, 10, 472–490.Google Scholar
  27. Kendall, P. C., & Hollon, S. D. (1981). Assessing self-referrent speech: Methods in the measurement of self-statements. In P. C. Kendall & S. D. Hollon (Eds.),Assessment strategies for cognitive-behavioral interventions. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  28. Lang, P. J. (1968). Fear reduction and fear behavior: Problems in treating a construct. In J. M. Schlien (Ed.),Research in psychotherapy (Vol. 3). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.Google Scholar
  29. Lazarus, R. S. (1966).Psychological stress and the coping process. New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  30. London, P. (1964).The modes and morals of psychotherapy. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston.Google Scholar
  31. Mahoney, M. J. (1974).Cognition and behavior modification. Cambridge: Ballinger.Google Scholar
  32. Meichenbaum, D. (1975). Self-instructional methods. In F. Kanfer & A. Goldstein (Eds.),Helping people change. New York: Pergamon.Google Scholar
  33. Meichenbaum, D., & Cameron, R. (1981). Issues in cognitive assessment: An overview. In T. V. Merluzzi, C. R. Glass, & M. Genest (Eds.),Cognitive assessment. New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
  34. Merluzzi, T. V., Glass, C. R., & Genest, M. (Eds.). (1981).Cognitive assessment. New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
  35. Mischel, W. (1968).Personality and assessment. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  36. Mowrer, O. H. (1939). A stimulus-response analysis of anxiety and its role as a reinforcing agent.Psychological Review, 46, 553–565.Google Scholar
  37. Newmark, C. S., Frerking, R. A., Cook, L., & Newmark, L. (1973). Endorsement of Ellis's irrational beliefs as a function of psychopathology.Journal of Clinical Psychology, 29, 300–302.Google Scholar
  38. Pope, K. S. (1977).The stream of consciousness. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. Yale University.Google Scholar
  39. Sutton-Simon, K., & Goldfried, M. R. (1979). Faulty thinking patterns in two types of anxiety.Cognitive Therapy and Research, 3, 193–203.Google Scholar
  40. Watson, D., & Friend, R. (1969). Measurement of social-evaluative anxiety.Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 33, 448–457.Google Scholar
  41. Woods, P. J. (1984). Further indications on the validity and usefulness of the Jones Irrational Beliefs Test.Journal of Rational-Emotive Therapy, 2, 3–6.Google Scholar
  42. Woods, P. J., & Coggin, S. K. (1985). Irrationality profiles for anger and anxiety.Journal of Rational-Emotive Therapy, 3, 124–129.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gerald C. Davison
    • 1
  • Vivien Zighelboim
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos Angeles

Personalised recommendations