Dysfunctional Attitudes Scale, Form a; Norms for the Romanian Population

By Macavei, Bianca | Journal of Evidence-Based Psychotherapies, September 2006 | Go to article overview

Dysfunctional Attitudes Scale, Form a; Norms for the Romanian Population


Macavei, Bianca, Journal of Evidence-Based Psychotherapies


Abstract

The results obtained following administration of the Dysfunctional Attitudes Scale, Form A (Hollon & Kendall, 1980) to a Romanian sample are, on the whole, consistent with those obtained in earlier normative studies involving American samples. The scale was administered to a group of 701 adults and teenagers selected from the normal population. Internal consistency coefficients (Alpha Cronbach) ranged from .79 to .86, which are adequate for reporting reliable results. A pilot study examining validity revealed the DAS-A discriminated between groups with extreme scores on different measures of emotional distress. Norms for the Romanian version of the scale are also included.

Key words: CBT, dysfunctional attitudes, reliability, validity, norms for the Romanian population.

INTRODUCTION

According to DSM IV (2000), clinically depressed people experience extreme feelings of sadness and feel hopeless and helpless weeks on end. Most of the time, they loose interest in the activities they once enjoyed, and have problems sleeping and eating. Many of the persons affected by depression have difficulties concentrating and solving even the simplest of life problems and spend much time contemplating suicide and death. In the severe cases, elaborate plans are made to end one's life. These symptoms are known to cause major adjustment difficulties that frequently end in life termination.

Among the most efficient methods of treating clinical depression are the cognitive-behavior interventions. The central element that differentiates cognitive-behavior therapies from other psychotherapeutic approaches is the cognitive conceptualization of mental problems. A cognitive conceptualization provides the framework for understanding how the patient's problem developed and is maintained. Cognitive-behavior therapy is based on the cognitive model, which assumes that people's emotions are caused mainly by the way they interpret and think about life events (Ellis, 1994; Beck, 1995). Aaron Beck's perspective on clinical depression (Beck, 1967; Beck, Rush, Emery, & Shaw, 1979) is based on the assumption that depressive people hold negatively biased cognitive schemas that filter out positive information, while favoring negative data. A cognitive schema is a knowledge structure that interacts with newer data entries, selectively orienting attention, expectations, memory retrievals and interpretations (Williams, Watts, MacLeod, & Mathews, 1997). Cognitive schemas develop in time, drawing on personal experience and guiding the interpretation of ambiguous situations, as well as the memory encoding and retrieval of emotion-laden information (Williams et al., 1997). While schemas are cognitive structures within the mind, core beliefs are the specific contents of them (Beck, 1964).

According to the cognitive theory of depression (Beck et al., 1979), depressive schemas and core beliefs represent cognitive vulnerability and are activated by negative life events; once activated, they lead to the generation of negative automatic thoughts. Depressed people harbour negative thoughts about self, world and future, this cognitive triad underlying specific depressive symptoms (Beck, 1967, 1976, 1987). Once activated, dysfunctional schemas and core beliefs produce systematic errors in thinking. Among the most frequent (Beck, 1995):

(1) "All or nothing thinking"- the tendency to view a situation in only two categories, instead of on a continuum; absolutistic thinking.

(2) Arbitrary inference - the tendency to draw negative conclusions in the absence of supporting evidence.

(3) Selective abstraction - the tendency to pay attention to one negative detail, instead of seeing the big picture.

(4) Magnification/minimization - the tendency to unreasonably magnify the negative and/or minimize the positive when evaluating one's self, another person or a situation.

(5) Labeling - the tendency to evaluate oneself or another person globally, ignoring evidence that might support a less extreme conclusion. …

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