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Cognitive errors in adolescence: The linkages between negative cognitive errors and anxious and depressive symptoms

Tairi, T. (2006). Cognitive errors in adolescence: The linkages between negative cognitive errors and anxious and depressive symptoms. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)


The present study investigated the relationships between negative cognitive errors and self-reported symptoms of anxiety and depression in a community sample of Greek adolescents, aged 12 to 18 years (A/ = 883). The Children’s Negative Cognitive Error Questionnaire was used to measure four types of cognitive errors, namely, catastrophising, overgeneralisation, personalisation, and selective abstraction, and two self-report scales of anxiety and depression (i.e., the STAI and the CES-D) were used to assess anxious and depressive symptoms. As hypothesised, results indicated that high levels of negative cognitive errors correlated positively with greater frequency and intensity of anxious and depressive symptoms among adolescents. Hierarchical regression analyses indicated that the cognitive errors of overgeneralisation and catastrophising, as well as, overall cognitive distortion scores predicted a change in adolescents’ self-reported anxious and depressive symptoms. Furthermore, overgeneralisation and catastrophising were both strong predictors of anxiety and depression, indicating that the two emotional disorders probably share the same types of cognitive distortions.

A decrease on scores of overall cognitive distortion over the age groups from early adolescence to late adolescence was found, suggesting that cognitive errors during early adolescence may reflect normal developmental trends, and that with increasing age, adolescents are less likely to adopt a negative cognitive bias. Finally, late adolescents reported more anxious and depressive symptoms than younger ones, highlighting the contention that the transitional years from middle to late adolescence tend to mark a major increase in risk for psychopathology. Consistent with previous studies, the findings from this investigation confirmed that cognitive distortions are a common and pervasive attribute of adolescents who reported depressive and / or anxious symptoms and demonstrated the generalisability of the association between cognitive distortions and depression and anxiety in Greek adolescents. The role of dysfunctional cognitive processing in anxiety and depression during adolescence, implications for Beck’s cognitive therapy, the limitations of the current study, and suggestions for further research are discussed.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > School of Health & Psychological Sciences Doctoral Theses
Doctoral Theses
[thumbnail of Tairi thesis 2006 PDF-A.pdf]
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