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Publication Date


Document Type

Honors Project




Obsessive-compulsive disorder, Obsessive-compulsive disorder-Etiology, Self-perception, Psychology


Cognitive-behavioral models of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) implicate a set of OCD-relevant dysfunctional beliefs (obsessive beliefs) in the development of the disorder, but the origins of these beliefs remain unclear. To address this issue, the present study investigated the empirical merit of Guidano and Liotti's (1983) theoretical model of OCD, which offers an explanation for the development of obsessive beliefs. Specifically, this study examined the indirect effects of three self-perceptions – self-ambivalence, self-worth contingent on morality, and self-worth contingent on others' approval – on obsessive-compulsive (OC) symptoms via obsessive beliefs. A sample of undergraduate participants completed a battery of questionnaires assessing self-ambivalence, self-worth contingent on morality, self-worth contingent on others' approval, obsessive beliefs, OC symptoms, and depression. Analyses revealed indirect effects of self-ambivalence and self-worth contingent on morality, but not self-worth contingent on others' approval, on OC symptoms through obsessive beliefs, particularly beliefs about responsibility and threat. These findings provide partial support for the theory that self-ambivalence and contingent self-worth constitute risk factors for OCD because they prompt OCD-relevant dysfunctional beliefs, though experimental and longitudinal research is needed to clarify the directionality of this relationship. Broadly, the results encourage further examination of the integration of self-perceptions into etiological models of OCD, as this may lead to a more complete understanding of the development of the disorder.




29 pages. Honors Project-Smith College, 2014. Includes bibliographical references (pages 22-27)