Relationships between thought-action fusion, thought suppression and obsessive-compulsive symptoms: a structural equation modeling approach

E.G.C. Rassin*, P.E.H.M. Muris, H.G. Schmidt, H.L.G.J. Merckelbach

*Corresponding author for this work

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Research has shown that there are strong similarities in content between the obsessions and compulsions that characterize obsessive-compulsive disorder and nonclinical obsessions and compulsions. However, clinical and nonclinical obsessions and compulsions do differ with respect to characteristics like frequency, intensity, discomfort and elicited resistance. Two separate concepts have been invoked to explain how normal obsessions and compulsions may develop into clinical phenomena. First, it is suggested that thought-action fusion (TAF) contributes to obsessive-compulsive symptoms. Second, thought suppression may intensify obsessive-compulsive symptoms due to its paradoxical effect on intrusive thoughts. Although both phenomena have been found to contribute to obsessive-compulsive symptoms, possible interactions between these two have never been investigated. The current study explored how TAF and thought suppression interact in the development of obsessive-compulsive symptoms. Undergraduate psychology students (N = 173) completed questionnaires pertaining to TAF? thought suppression and obsessive-compulsive symptoms. Covariances between the scores on these questionnaires were analyzed by means of structural equation modeling. Results suggest that TAF triggers thought suppression, while thought suppression, in turn, promotes obsessive-compulsive symptoms.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)889-897
JournalBehaviour Research and Therapy
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2000

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