An experimental manipulation of thought-action fusion in children: investigating obsessive compulsive features.

Peterkin, Joanne (2012) An experimental manipulation of thought-action fusion in children: investigating obsessive compulsive features. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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Thought-Action Fusion (TAF) is a cognitive distortion associated with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). With limited experimental research, the role of TAF in the development of OCD is unclear. This study aimed to refine an experimental paradigm for manipulating TAF in children (Sillence, 2010), in order to investigate its causal role in OCD-type symptoms.
One-hundred 9-11 year olds were recruited from primary schools and randomly assigned to a control or experimental condition. Baseline measures of TAF, magical thinking, responsibility and anxiety were completed. Children were asked to wear a helmet and attempt to turn computer-screen images red using their thoughts. Children in the experimental group were shown images that turned redder while those in the control group were shown images that were unchanged. Children were then warned that ‘strong thoughts’ could damage the computer. They were told a button could be pressed to prevent their thoughts from doing damage. The effects on levels of neutralising behaviour, anxiety, responsibility, probability of harm and thought control, were examined.
The manipulation was successful. However, no significant group differences on the dependent variables were seen. Baseline TAF was correlated with probability of harm and anxiety, while induced-TAF was correlated with responsibility for harm. Responsibility beliefs appeared relevant with significant correlations noted with anxiety and thought control. For both groups, anxiety decreased following opportunity to neutralise or control thoughts. The results replicate some of the findings seen within the literature. The role of TAF in causing thought control (Sillence, 2010) was not replicated, although thought control was seen in both groups.
The results add support to the relevance of TAF in childhood OCD but do not corroborate a causal role. Thought control and responsibility beliefs appear highly relevant and worthy of further research. Methodological limitations are acknowledged and modifications suggested.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > Norwich Medical School
Depositing User: Users 2593 not found.
Date Deposited: 15 May 2013 11:34
Last Modified: 10 Jun 2013 15:35


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