Maladaptive Schemas, Irrational Beliefs, and Their Relationship with the Five-Factor Personality Model

By Sava, Florin A. | Journal of Evidence-Based Psychotherapies, September 2009 | Go to article overview

Maladaptive Schemas, Irrational Beliefs, and Their Relationship with the Five-Factor Personality Model


Sava, Florin A., Journal of Evidence-Based Psychotherapies


Abstract

This paper examined the relationship between the Five-Factor model of personality and some maladaptive schemas and irrational beliefs as suggested by the Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) framework. Data were gathered from 154 undergraduate students who completed four measures: DECAS Personality Inventory (a Romanian validated instrument for the Five-Factor model of personality), YSQ - L2 (Young Schema Questionnaire), ABS-2 (Attitudes and Beliefs Scale 2), and GABS-SV (General Attitudes and Beliefs Scale - Short Version). Emotional stability and agreeableness were negatively related to maladaptive schemas and irrational beliefs. While emotional stability was negatively associated with almost all schemas and irrational beliefs, agreeableness was inversely linked with schemas involved in externalizing psychopathology, such as mistrust, abandonment, entitlement and domination.

Keywords: five-factor model of personality, big-five, irrational beliefs, schema, psychopathology, DECAS

It is now common knowledge that our behavior is a natural consequence of the interaction between personality and situation (Mischel, 1968), which often leads to difficulties in predicting how an individual might behave. However, regardless how foolish an act might look like, people make use of reasoning in an attempt to justify their behavior. Designated as "if-then behavioral signatures" these decisions are seriously influenced by cognition, such as encoding strategies (ways of interpreting past or present situations) and expectancies (predictions of results in the future).

This approach is entirely supported by various forms of cognitivebehavioral psychotherapy (CBTs) (Beck, 1976; Ellis, 1994). For example, a key aspect of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) is that people are not disturbed by events per se but by the views and beliefs they have of the events (Davies, 2006). Ellis (1994) argued that endorsement of certain irrational ideas, and of the corollaries they normally lead to are the main causes of emotional disturbances. Similarly, one of the main assumptions of Beck's (1976) cognitive theory of psychological disorders is the existence of maladaptive schemas, which essentially reflect deeply the rooted patterns of distorted thinking about the world, oneself and one's relationship with others.

Despite the very promising evolution of various forms of CBTs, there are very few attempts to link personality to irrational beliefs and schemas, particularly if we take into account the most common approach to personality which is the five-factor model, otherwise known as the Big-Five model. A PsycInfo literature search on the five-factor model of personality returns over 2800 entries in the last 20 years, out of which 1000 recorded in the last five years (Sava, 2008). However, based on our data, there are only two previous attempts that link the five-factor model of personality to irrational beliefs and schemas. Davies (2006) found that the global irrationality score (IR) positively correlates with neuroticism and conscientiousness, and is negatively related to openness. However, this result should be interpreted with caution since the author used the 10-item short version of the NEO (Gosling, Rentfrow, & Swann, 2003) for which an average Cronbach's alpha of .55 was reported. Similarly, Muris (2006) found that neuroticism was positively related to the entire range of maladaptive schemas included in Young's set of core maladaptive schemas (Young, Klosko, & Weishaar, 2003). In another study, the five-factor model was related with the individual's ability to dispute irrational beliefs (Blau & Fuller, 2006). The main results suggest that anti-awfulizing beliefs positively correlate with emotional stability (low neuroticism), anti-low frustration tolerance beliefs are directly linked to emotional stability and agreeableness, and anti-self-downing beliefs are positively associated with emotional stability, conscientiousness and extraversion. …

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