ISSN 2043-8087
Journal of Experimental Psychopathology
 Volume 1, Issue 1, 52-70, 2010
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Experimental Manipulation of Beliefs about Uncertainty: Effects on Interpretive Processing and Access to Threat Schemata

Sonya S. Deschenes (1), Michel J. Dugas (1),(2), Adam S. Radomsky (1), & Kristin Buhr (3)
(1) Department of Psychology, Concordia University, Montreal, Canada
(2) Clinique des troubles anxieux, Hopital du Sacre-Coeur de Montreal, Montreal, Canada
(3) North Shore Stress and Anxiety Clinic, Vancouver, Canada

Volume 1, Issue 1, 2010, Pages 52-70

This study investigated the influence of beliefs about uncertainty on interpretive biases and access to threat schemata, with the use of an experimental manipulation. Individuals from the community and undergraduate students (N = 74) were randomly assigned to one of two experimental conditions: positive beliefs about uncertainty (n = 37) and negative beliefs about uncertainty (n = 37). To manipulate beliefs about uncertainty, participants watched a presentation on problem solving that either contained information about the positive or the negative effects of uncertainty on problem solving. To assess interpretive biases, participants completed a modified version of the Ambiguous/Unambiguous Situations Diary. Participants read potentially threatening passages and rated their level of worry. Passages were then disambiguated either positively or negatively and participants rated the likelihood and the value (goodness or badness) of these events. To assess access to threat schemata, the Catastrophizing Interview was administered. The Catastrophizing Interview is a structured worry task that assesses various aspects of the worry process, using the downward arrow technique. The results indicated that, although many of the expected group differences were not observed, participants in the negative beliefs about uncertainty group did rate the positively disambiguated scenarios as less positive and the average likelihood of feared consequences to personal worries as more probable. This study provides partial support for the notion that beliefs about uncertainty may have a causal effect on interpretations of ambiguous situations as well as on ease of access to threat schemata.

Table of Contents
   Negative Beliefs about Uncertainty
   Information Processing Biases
   Worry and Access to Threat Schemata
   Goals and Hypotheses
   Experimental Manipulation
   Dependent Variables
   Baseline Measures
   Manipulation Receipt and Validity Check
   Manipulation Efficacy Checks
   Dependent Variables
   Manipulation checks
   Strengths and Limitations
   Future Directions

Correspondence to
Michel J. Dugas, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, Concordia University, 7141 Sherbrooke Street West, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, H4B 1R6.

Intolerance of uncertainty, worry, cognitive processing, experimental manipulation, interpretive bias, threat schemata.

Received 4 May 2010; Revised 24 Sep 2010; Accepted 25 Sep 2010; In Press 31 Oct 2010

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