Since the inception of cognitive theory, enduring cognitive-affective structures have been linked with vulnerability to psychopathology. Beck (1976) described the triad of negative views of self, the world and the future in the dynamic of depression. Other scholars (e.g., Bowlby, 1969, 1973; Guidano & Liotti, 1983; Janoff-Bulman, 1991; Kyrios, 1998) have invoked terms such as internal working models of self and other, and assumptions about the world in their bid to explain a range of different disorders. However, few researchers have investigated the relationship between such structures and vulnerability to obsessive-compulsive (OC) symptoms specifically (e.g., Bhar & Kyrios, 2000; Guidano & Liotti, 1983; Sookman, Pinard, & Beauchemin, 1994).
Cognitive behavioral models suggest that a range of dysfunctional beliefs and maladaptive appraisals underpin ineffective strategies employed by individuals in the management of intrusive phenomena. Findings indicate that non-clinical populations experience intrusive thoughts, images, or urges and associated cognitions, albeit to a lesser intensity and distress compared with individuals suffering from OCD (see Gibbs, 1996 for review). In OCD, however, one observes extreme reactions to these common intrusions resulting in obsessive and compulsive symptoms (see de Silva & Rachman, 1998). Cognitive-behavioral research by the Obsessive Compulsive Cognitions Working Group (OCCWG, 1997) has focused on six main belief domains considered as having an important role in the development of obsessions from intrusive thoughts: inflated personal responsibility; the over importance of thoughts; beliefs about the importance of controlling one's thoughts; overestimation of threat; intolerance for uncertainty; and perfectionism. Recently, the OCCWG (2003; Taylor, Kyrios, Thordarson, Steketee, & Frost, 2002) reported a high degree of association between the identified OC-relevant belief domains and OC symptoms, a finding that was replicated even after a more parsimonious factor structure was identified amongst these domains (OCCWG, 2005).
Implicit within these OC relevant cognitive domains are beliefs about one's surrounding world (e.g., danger) and about oneself (e.g., being personally responsible for preventing harm). A variety of variables related to self and world views have been linked with OC phenomena (e.g., ambivalent sense of self, magical thinking). However, a systematic examination of these constructs has yet to be undertaken. The present paper sought to advance our understanding of OCD by undertaking a multifaceted investigation of the self and world-view.