The Young Cognitive Schema Questionnaire - S2: Reliability, Validity Indicators and Norms in a Romanian Clinical and Non-Clinical Population

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Abstract

This article presents data on the Young Cognitive Schema Questionnaire - S2 applied on a Romanian sample. Clinical and nonclinical subjects were included in the study (N=744). The internal consistency coefficients, test-retest reliability and discriminative validity were determined, using both clinical and non-clinical samples. The results reported in this paper are generally consistent with those found in earlier normative studies involving English-and non-English samples (e.g., Dutch and Finnish).

Keywords: maladaptive cognitive schemas, internal consistency, test-retest reliability, discriminative validity

Personality disorders are described in the International Classification of Mental and Behavioral Disorders (ICD-10) as "deeply ingrained and enduring behavior patterns, manifesting themselves as inflexible responses to a broad range of personal and social situations" (Kendell, 2002 p. 110).

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV (DSM-IV) specifies that a personality disorder "leads to significant clinical problems or to impairments in one's social and occupational life, or in other important functional areas" (APA, 2000, p. 689).

Schema theory, as proposed by Young and colleagues (2003), explains the relationship between experiences in childhood, inborn temperament, and psychosocial or personological outcomes in adulthood. Young and colleagues (2003) suggested that once early maladaptive schemas (EMS) are in place, they continually act upon or influence an individual's interaction with both the environment and internal processes, and, therefore, contribute to many chronic issues such as chronic depression, anxiety, and personality disorders.

Young (1999) argues that the maladaptive cognitive schemas develop primarily as a result of traumatic childhood experiences. Also, as they are maintained by distortions in information processing, they end up being part and parcel of the human lifelong struggles. Schemas emerge in childhood or adolescence, as basic representations of the surrounding reality. The dysfunctional nature of the schemas becomes more evident later in life, when the patients continue to perpetuate their schemas in their interactions with others, even if their perceptions are no longer grounded in reality (Dindelegan, 2007).

Some of the most important characteristics of cognitive / maladaptive schemas are as follows: (1) they represent absolute, essential and sufficient truths; (2) they are generally expressed in rigid, "musturbatory" (Ellis, 1977) forms such as: "if .... then it must ..."; (3) they are self-perpetuated and, thus, resistant to change; (4) they are shaped at an early age and they become familiar, so that any changes are perceived by the individual as a threat. As a result he/she will try to protect the integrity and validity of these constructs, that are perceived as fundamental; (5) they can lead to psychological problems on DSM-IV Axis I and II; (6) they are activated by events relevant to the individual; (7) they are the result of previous experiences (i.e., the family and significant others play a crucial role in their development).

As noted, early dysfunctional cognitive schemas are emotional and cognitive self-defensive patterns which appear early in human development and are perpetuated in later life. It is important to note, however, that an individual's behavior is not part of his/her personal schema. For example, Young states that dysfunctional behaviors develop in response to the schemas, and so the behaviors are directed by such schemas but are not necessarily a part of them (Young, 1990).

Schemas are also dimensional, meaning that the level of their severity is gradual in nature. The more severe the schema, the greater the number of situations that can activate it. However, not all schemas are negative; some are positive. Also, not all of them develop early as there is evidence that some arise later in life. …