Academic journal article Measurement and Evaluation in Counseling and Development

The Early Maladaptive Schema Questionnaire-Short Form: A Construct Validity Study. (Articles)

Academic journal article Measurement and Evaluation in Counseling and Development

The Early Maladaptive Schema Questionnaire-Short Form: A Construct Validity Study. (Articles)

Article excerpt

N B. Schmidt, T E. Joiner, J. E. Young, and M. J. Telch (1995) provided preliminary construct validity for scores from J. E. Young 's (1990) 205-item Early Maladaptive Schema Questionnaire. The present study extends this work by examining the construct validity of scores from the shorter 75-item version of this instrument--the Early Maladaptive Schema Questionnaire-Short Form (J. E. Young, 1994).


Cognitive therapy holds a prominent place among theories of psychotherapy, empirically derived treatments, and efficacy studies of therapy outcome (J. S. Beck, 1995). Useful concepts, such as cognitive schemas, are well integrated among various cognitive therapies, and, yet, the empirical study and construct validation of specific cognitive schemas remain to be systematically investigated. The focus of the current investigation is to provide construct validity for specific cognitive schemas, measured by the Early Maladaptive Schema Questionnaire-Short Form (EMSQ-SF; Young, 1994), by examining their relationships with common clinical symptoms.

The concept of schema functioning is acknowledged and defined by the major theoretical domains within cognitive psychotherapy as follows: (a) global, rigid, and overgeneralized core beliefs that operate at a fundamental cognitive level (J. S. Beck, 1995); (b) internal working models of relationship events that are particularly influenced by early relationships (Robins & Hayes, 1995); (c) abstract cognitive structures that comprise or generate patterns or themes of experience (Mahoney, 1991); (d) cognitive structures, or relatively enduring representations of prior knowledge and experience, that are stored in memory (Neimeyer, 1985); and (e) organized elements of past interactions and expectations, constituting a relatively consistent knowledge base that has the potential for guiding perception and appraisals (Segal, Hood, Shaw, & Higgins, 1988).

Although the process function of schema theory has been adapted and integrated into cognitive psychotherapy (A. T. Beck, 1967; Brewer & Nakamura, 1984; Goldfried & Robins, 1983; Hollon & Kriss, 1984), there have been surprisingly few efforts made to advance the development, assessment, and application of schema theory within cognitive psychotherapy. Young (1990, 1994) has conducted one prominent line of research, resulting in the theoretical emergence of early maladaptive schemas (EMSs). Young (1994) described EMSs as "extremely stable and enduring themes that develop during childhood and are elaborated upon throughout an individual's lifetime" (p. 9). Young (1990) argued "rather than resulting from isolated traumatic events in childhood, most schemas are probably caused by ongoing patterns of everyday noxious experiences with family members and peers which cumulatively strengthen the schema" (p. 11).

Young (1990) posited that an EMS rests at the deepest level of cognition and that the individual is not always aware of the impact that EMSs have on emotions and behavior. He suggested that EMSs are enduring themes (or frames of reference) that develop during childhood and are revised and expanded further throughout the course of an individual's life. Young (1990) further suggested that EMSs differ from negative automatic thoughts (i.e., basic dysfunctional thoughts about the self, the world, and the future) in that the former do not offer the possibility of success for the individual. In addition, the triggering of an EMS results in a more drastic change of affect than does a negative automatic thought because it is intertwined with the individual's core self-concept. Similar in part to Rotter's (1966) conceptualization of the external locus of control and Seligman's (1975) theory of learned helplessness, EMSs may foster the attitude that the dreaded outcome is inevitable regardless of attempts to control th e outcome.

Young (1990, 1994) has hypothesized a delineation of schemas that describe and define relatively discrete areas of maladaptive functioning. …

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