Anticipated Criticism/Rejection and Negative Self-Appraisals: Do They Independently Predict OCD Symptoms and the Negative Significance of Intrusive Thoughts?

  • John H. Riskind
  • Edward C. Wright
  • Megan Scott
Advancements in Cognitive-Behavioral Modeling and Treatment of OCD


Cognitive theories of OCD posit that individuals who develop clinically significant obsessions tend to make distorted appraisals of the negative significance of unwanted intrusive thoughts. To date, most research has focused on the implications that unwanted intrusive thoughts have for negative self-appraisals (e.g., being bad, mad, or dangerous). By contrast, the possible relationship between obsessional symptoms and expectations about the negative reactions of others to the intrusive thoughts has received little attention. The present studies provide evidence that anticipating negative reactions from others is predictive of the general negative significance of intrusive thoughts and adds to our ability to predict OCD symptoms. Using a sample of college student participants (N = 277), the first study found evidence that the expected negative reactions of other individuals contribute to the prediction of significant unique variance in both OCD symptoms and the negative significance of intrusive thoughts in college students. In a second study (M = 177), it was found that attributing malevolent traits (e.g., vengeful) to others accounted for significant variance in OCD symptoms, over and above the variance explained by the negative significance of thoughts. However, they did not account for variance in the negative significance of intrusive thoughts.


Intrusive thoughts OCD Cognitive bias in OCD 


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Copyright information

© International Association of Cognitive Psychotherapy 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • John H. Riskind
    • 1
  • Edward C. Wright
    • 2
    • 3
  • Megan Scott
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyGeorge Mason UniversityFairfaxUSA
  2. 2.Massachusetts General HospitalBostonUSA
  3. 3.Harvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  4. 4.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of Chicago School of MedicineChicagoUSA

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