Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


A review of the literature investigating various cognitive constructs across different maladjustment patterns indicated that, despite numerous cognitive similarities, the content domains to which cognitive processes apply may be one potentially important feature distinguishing various forms of psychological maladjustment. This proposal was empirically tested in a pilot study, in which irrational belief profiles were examined concurrently across four maladjustment patterns: depression, anxiety, the Type A behaviour pattern, and bulimia. Correlational data gathered from 63 introductory psychology students yielded data consistent with content specificity proposals.;Using a university undergraduate population, content specificity proposals were comprehensively investigated across four cognitive components: irrational beliefs, self-schemata, memory for self-relevant information, and selective attention. Study 1 provided a replication of irrational belief configurations across maladjustment patterns and further demonstrated that beliefs specific to each pattern, relative to common cognitions, significantly predicted maladjustment after a 7-week interval, beyond the prediction yielded by initial maladjustment levels alone.;Content parameters of self-schemata across maladjustment patterns were explored in study 2 via a self-referent rating paradigm. The configuration of self-descriptive information associated with each maladjustment pattern generally converged with the predicted content dimensions underlying cognitive profiles. An investigation of incidental recall for self-relevant information revealed specificity effects among depressed subjects for profile-specific material.;Study 3 tested content specificity proposals at the level of selective attention. A modification of the MacLeod, Mathews & Tata (1986) probe-detection paradigm was employed. For depressed, anxious, and bulimic groups, the results were consistent with attentional shifts toward information converging on specific cognitive profile content, relative to nonspecific material. No selective attention effects were obtained for the Type A group. Incidental recognition data further supported enhanced retention for profile-specific material for depressed individuals.;In general, the results yielded by this multi-method assessment of cognitive functioning demonstrated a high degree of convergence in the depiction of cognitive profiles associated with different forms of maladjustment. The implications of these results for the differential expression of psychological maladjustment were elaborated in the context of the cognitive-profile model of psychological maladjustment.



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