UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

To check or not to check : a test of a cognitive theory of compulsive checking Haring, Michelle Louise

Abstract

The purpose of these studies was to provide the first experimental tests of a new cognitive theory of compulsive checking by Rachman (2002). The first part of this theory concerns the impact of hypothesized "multipliers" of checking, perceived responsibility, probability, and severity of harm. Study 1 assessed the impact of these multipliers on a variety of checking-related outcomes. Fifty undergraduate students, 31 participants with anxiety disorders other than obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and 29 participants with OCD responded to a series of vignettes describing situations that implied the possibility of harm. Participants provided ratings of their likely emotional and behavioural responses in these situations. It was hypothesized that the multipliers would make significant independent and combined contributions to checking-related outcomes. The findings of Study 1 offered strong support for part one of the theory and highlighted its explanatory power across the continuum of anxiety and checking behaviour. Study 2 provided the first exploratory test of the self-perpetuating mechanism described in part two of Rachman's theory as an explanation for repeated checking. It was hypothesized that repeated checking would be associated with increases in perceived responsibility, probability and severity of harm, and with decreased confidence in memory, consistent with the proposed self-perpetuating mechanism. Study 2 also explored the universality of this mechanism by testing both individuals who routinely check and those who do not, and by including both high and low relevance items. Forty-four undergraduate students and 20 individuals with OCD and primary checking compulsions completed a telephone checking experiment from their homes. Participants performed a series of four checking tasks under the telephone guidance of an experimenter. Two of the tasks involved a single check of the items (high relevance vs. low relevance) and two of the tasks involved repeated checking. Contrary to hypotheses, ratings of responsibility, probability and severityThe purpose of these studies was to provide the first experimental tests of a new cognitive theory of compulsive checking by Rachman (2002). The first part of this theory concerns the impact of hypothesized "multipliers" of checking, perceived responsibility, probability, and severity of harm. Study 1 assessed the impact of these multipliers on a variety of checking-related outcomes. Fifty undergraduate students, 31 participants with anxiety disorders other than obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and 29 participants with OCD responded to a series of vignettes describing situations that implied the possibility of harm. Participants provided ratings of their likely emotional and behavioural responses in these situations. It was hypothesized that the multipliers would make significant independent and combined contributions to checking-related outcomes. The findings of Study 1 offered strong support for part one of the theory and highlighted its explanatory power across the continuum of anxiety and checking behaviour. Study 2 provided the first exploratory test of the self-perpetuating mechanism described in part two of Rachman's theory as an explanation for repeated checking. It was hypothesized that repeated checking would be associated with increases in perceived responsibility, probability and severity of harm, and with decreased confidence in memory, consistent with the proposed self-perpetuating mechanism. Study 2 also explored the universality of this mechanism by testing both individuals who routinely check and those who do not, and by including both high and low relevance items. Forty-four undergraduate students and 20 individuals with OCD and primary checking compulsions completed a telephone checking experiment from their homes. Participants performed a series of four checking tasks under the telephone guidance of an experimenter. Two of the tasks involved a single check of the items (high relevance vs. low relevance) and two of the tasks involved repeated checking. Contrary to hypotheses, ratings of responsibility, probability and severity decreased significantly and memory confidence increased significantly from pre- to post-check across both the single and repeated check conditions and both samples. The findings of Study 2 were not consistent with the operation of a self-perpetuating mechanism. Implications of the findings of these studies for this new cognitive theory of compulsive checking are discussed.

Item Media

Item Citations and Data

License

For non-commercial purposes only, such as research, private study and education. Additional conditions apply, see Terms of Use https://open.library.ubc.ca/terms_of_use.

Usage Statistics