An Experimental Test of a Cognitive Defusion Exercise: Coping With Negative and Positive Self-Statements

Abstract

This study investigated the impact of defusion on a nonclinical sample (n = 60) in the context of negative (e.g., “I am a bad person”) and positive (e.g., “I am whole”) self-statements. Participants were assigned to one of three experimental conditions (Pro-Defusion, Anti-Defusion, and Neutral) that manipulated instructions about the impact of a defusion strategy. Defusion was also manipulated through the visual presentation of the self-statements, with each presented in three formats (Normal, Defused, Abnormal). Participants rated each self-statement for comfort, believability, and willingness. Although the instructions did not affect ratings, negative statements presented in the defused format decreased discomfort and increased willingness and believability relative to the nondefused statements. The findings suggest using defusion strategies in coping with negative psychological content.

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Correspondence to Yvonne Barnes-Holmes.

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Research for this paper was funded in part by the Irish Research Council for the Humanities and the Social Sciences, through a Government of Ireland Scholarship. The authors thank two anonymous reviewers for their help and constructive comments on revisions to the manuscript.

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Healy, HA., Barnes-Holmes, Y., Barnes-Holmes, D. et al. An Experimental Test of a Cognitive Defusion Exercise: Coping With Negative and Positive Self-Statements. Psychol Rec 58, 623–640 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF03395641

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