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The organization and the nature of irrational beliefs: schemas or appraisal?

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Aurora SZENTAGOTAI, Babes-Bolyai University, Department of Psychology, Cluj-Napoca, Romania Julie SCHNUR Mount Sinai School of Medicine, Biobehavioral and Integrative Medicine Programs, New York, U.S.A., Raymond DiGIUSEPPE St. John’s University, Department of Psychology, New York, U.S.A., Bianca MACAVEI, Eva KALLAY, Babes-Bolyai University, Department of Psychology, Cluj-Napoca, Romania Daniel DAVID, Babes-Bolyai University, Department of Psychology, Cluj-Napoca, Romania […]

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Can we read others’ minds? Rational beliefs, positive illusions and mental health

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With the exception of pathological cases, all people seem to have at least a rudimentary mind reading capacity. The most important consequence is the capacity to predict the behavior of other individuals in various social settings. People are capable of meta-perception but studies show that self-report measures of mind reading skills are poor predictors of actual mind reading accuracy. The aim of this study was to establish people’s evaluation of their own mind reading abilities, which contribute significantly to their state of well-being. In other words, is it healthy to consider that we can read others’ thoughts, emotions, intentions, and can we anticipate and predict their behavior with great precision? We started from the assumption that these over evaluations belong to the field of positive illusions, along with unrealistically positive views of the self and unrealistic optimism. Thus, they give the one that beholds them the illusion of control, in situations characterized by reduced possibilities of control. Another direction of research question concerned the connection between mind reading beliefs and the level of irrational beliefs of the subjects, the implication of which in emotional distress is well-known. Our results showed that (1) men have the tendency of overestimating their abilities to mind read compared to women; (2) the evaluation of mind reading abilities as being high can function as positive illusions; (3) these beliefs are common among subjects with a high level of irrationality (4) positively biased opinions regarding our own abilities to read the others’ mind and predict their outcomes, contribute significantly to the prediction of mental health.

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The distinction between functional and dysfunctional negative emotions; an empirical analysis

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At present, in the scientific literature concerning negative emotions and distress the unitary model of distress is the dominant model. According to this model, high levels of distress are conceptualized as a high level of negative affect while low levels of distress are conceptualized as a low level of negative affect. The binary model of distress, initially elaborated by Albert Ellis (1994), describes distress as a binary construct, consisting of two distinct components: functional negative emotions and dysfunctional negative emotions. In the present study, using 72 first year undergraduate students as subjects, we tested hypotheses based on the two models of distress: the unitary model and the binary model. The outcome shows qualitative differences between functional negative emotions and dysfunctional negative emotions, gaining support for the binary model of distress. Promising practical implications for psychotherapy are discussed.

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A search for “hot” cognitions in a clinical and a non-clinical context: appraisal, attributions, core relational themes, irrational beliefs, and their relations to emotion

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Two studies examine the hypothesized status of appraisal, attribution (study 1 only), core relational themes (study 2 only), and irrational beliefs (both studies) as proximal antecedents of emotions. In our studies, which looked at 4 pairs of functional and dysfunctional negative emotions (i.e., concern/anxiety, sadness/depression, remorse/guilt, annoyance/anger), 125 undergraduate students (study 1) and 60 psychotherapy patients reported on their appraisals, attributions, core relational themes, irrational beliefs, and emotions during past encounters with various negative events. Congruent with Smith & Lazarus’ (1993) appraisal theory, and Ellis’ (1994) cognitive theory of emotions, the results of our studies indicate that emotions (both functional and dysfunctional negative emotions) are associated with both appraisal and core relational themes, while only dysfunctional feelings are associated with irrational beliefs; the impact of attributions on emotions is mediated by appraisal. Also, irrational beliefs are strongly associated with appraisal; while demandingness (DEM) is to a higher degree associated with primary appraisal, awfulizing/catastrophizing, low frustration tolerance, and global evaluation of human worth (including self-downing) are to a higher degree associated with secondary appraisal. Dysfunctional emotions seem to involve primary appraisal associated with DEM, while functional emotions involve primary appraisal associated with preferences. These findings support to the status of appraisal, core relational themes and irrational beliefs as the proximal cognitive antecedents of emotion, and the status of irrational beliefs as discriminating factors between functional and dysfunctional emotions.

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