This study included three groups of participants; those presenting with OCD, those with an anxiety disorder other than OCD, and community controls. Participants from all groups were assessed as to their attachment representations, self structure, world view assumptions and OC cognitions and symptoms. The aim of this study was to examine the importance and specificity of attachment representations, sensitive self domains and world assumptions to OC phenomena.
Consistent with previous research linking attachment representations with OC related dysfunctional beliefs (Mikulincer et al., 2004; Wei et al., 2004; also see chapter 6 of this thesis), it was hypothesized that the severity of IWMs of self would be associated with more dysfunctional OC cognitions across all domains and greater symptoms within the OCD group. Further, IWMs of others was expected to weakly relate to OC cognitions (see chapter 6 of this thesis). A previous study (see chapter 6 of this thesis) found that IWMs of attachment were associated with OC symptoms via several cognitive affective-structures theorized to be of particular importance in OCD (e.g., sensitive self and world-view assumptions). In accordance with this, individuals presenting with OCD were expected to show more negative attachment representations than both the anxiety and the community control groups. The effect of a diagnostic group was expected to remain after controlling for depression and OC related cognitions. This is because the suggested cognitive affective structures are hypothesized to be of particular relevance to OCD rather than general vulnerability factors to psychopathology (e.g., depression).
Previous results indicated a link between sensitivity of self in the domains of morality and job competence and all OC symptom dimensions (except impulses of harm) and dysfunctional cognitions (except perfectionism/intolerance of uncertainty). These effects were generally maintained when controlling for general self worth (see chapter 5 of this thesis). Following on from this, it was hypothesized that, within the OCD group, individuals with sensitivity in morality and job competence domains would show higher severity scores in these dysfunctional beliefs and symptoms, as well as in overall symptom severity and conviction in maladaptive cognitions. These results were expected to remain when controlling for mood scores. Further, the proportion of individuals showing sensitivity in these domains was expected to be higher in the OCD cohort than in the control groups.
Finally, consistent with previous findings linking negative benevolence of world, negative self-deservingness, self controllability and justice beliefs with OC severity scores (see chapter 4 and 6 of this thesis), it was hypothesized that adherence to such assumptions would be linked with higher OC symptoms and cognitions within the OCD group. Also consistent with previous findings (see chapter 4 of this thesis), controllability assumptions (i.e., controllability, self-controllability) were expected to be more strongly linked with overt symptoms (e.g., checking and washing), while morality-related assumptions (i.e., justice, self-deservingness) were expected to be more strongly associated with covert symptoms (e.g., thoughts and impulses of harm). Controllability assumptions were also expected to be more strongly related to negative perceptions of the world. As small to moderate size correlations were previously found between all OC beliefs and world assumptions (see chapter 4 of this thesis), no particular relationships were expected between these constructs.