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Does magical thinking produce neutralising behaviour? an experimental investigation

By Laura Bocci and P. Kenneth Gordon

Abstract

Magical thinking is of relevance to obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), and has been most widely investigated inrelation to the cognitive bias known as thought-action fusion (TAF). This is seen as playing a role in the formation of fears about responsibility for harm. We suggest that magical thinking may also characterise some types of neutralising behaviour, which arise in response to those fears, and are a hallmark of the disorder. In an experimental study of 51undergraduate students, we assessed whether the use of neutralising behaviours in response to an induction of fears of increasing likelihood for harm is related to a propensity for magical thinking. The 75.5% of participants demonstrated at least one form of neutralising behaviour in response to a TAF-induction task. Neutralising was associated with stronger and more persistent responses to the task, and with questionnaire measures of magical ideation. Those who neutralised did not report higher levels of OCD symptoms. It appears that neutralising is a common response in circumstances that provoke a sense of responsibility for harm. Its occurrence may be linked to magical thinking, however, the results from this experimental investigation suggested that this process may not be specifi c to OCD

Topics: RZ, BF
Year: 2007
OAI identifier: oai:eprints.soton.ac.uk:49275
Provided by: e-Prints Soton

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