Automatic processing of intrusive thoughts
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Type of Workapplication/pdf
vi, 69 pages
DepartmentTowson University. Department of Psychology
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Intrusive thoughts are distinct cognitive events that are unwanted and distressing. They are commonly experienced by clinical and nonclinical populations. Through self-report methods, it seems that intrusive thoughts are automatically activated. However, there is no known method that implicitly measures this assumption. The present study adapted an implicit measure of automatic processing to evaluate intrusive thoughts. Seventy-two participants listened to a recording in which they imagined receiving a consensual or nonconsensual kiss from a man described as physically clean or dirty (resulting in four mental contamination induction conditions: consensual clean, consensual dirty, nonconsensual clean or nonconsensual dirty). Then, they completed a primed lexical decision task, which measured automatic processing via prime-target pairs that varied in relatedness and expectancy. Due to the intrusive thoughts elicited from the mental contamination, it was hypothesized that participants would respond faster to related unexpected prime-target pairs compared to the unrelated expected pairs. However, this was not observed. Explanations for the results are discussed.