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The application of specific psychological disorders

Essay Topic:

Abstract:

In accordance with previous research, Aydin (1996) found that negative thinking is associated with the application of specific psychological disorders, such as depression and anxiety; additionally Stroud (2010) supports this analysis. The current study was undertaken to measure the influence of negativity on a student population, as previous research has specifically focused on clinical participants. Further investigation is needed to discover how individual thinking strategies can affect how frequently a negative thought occurs.

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Therefore, it was decided that the thought control questionnaire would be the most appropriate measure of negativity. The questionnaire is used to identify whether social control, reappraisal, worry, or punishment can mediate the frequency of negativity and the impact on an individual’s self-esteem. Analysis included a parametric test using a multiple regression. Results found that overall, the thought control questionnaire approached significance, and therefore considered reliable when interpreting which factors increased negativity. Additionally, the first condition: worrying behaviour was found to be a predictive variable in relation to how often a negative thought occurs.

Introduction:

Frequent negative thoughts are often perceived to be a burden to the individual and are considered a common occurrence within the process of thought patterns (Edwards & Dickery, 1987.) Negative thinking and self-esteem have been linked to many psychological illnesses, such as eating disorders (Aydin, 1996; Vitousek, 1996.) Additionally, Wells (2004) found that levels of perfectionism and anxiety disorders are also linked with negative thought processes. This suggests that negativity can have an adverse effect on psychological illnesses, perhaps making them worse in some cases. For example, Stroud et al (2010) found that negativity can increase levels of depression and as a result, negativity can affect suicide rates (Flett, Hewitt, Blankstein; Grey 1998; Wong et al 2003.) It is evident that previous literature has predominantly focused on negative thinking within clinical domains, therefore despite the prevalence of literature; little emphasis has investigated factors that may influence negativity within a non-clinical population (Davies, 1994).

There is an increased concern in reducing the severity of illnesses such as depression this therefore shows that as a result the non-clinical population is not considered of importance (study). This can be seen as a limitation. This research is supported by Donohue1, (2007) who found many programmes attempting to combat negativity, specifically focused on patients suffering from depression. Therefore, further investigation is needed to help others who are suffering from negative thoughts, who have not been diagnosed with similar disorders. This will also provide a clear distinction between clinical and non-clinical behaviour in regards to what is acceptable. Further investigation of negativity is of critical importantance, as Verplanken et al, (2007:526) suggests, “Self-evaluations are important elements of reflexive consciousness.” This implies that the conscious awareness of an individual is significantly associated with negative thoughts patterns. However Bower (1981), disagrees with this view and states that emotional state could provide a mood state dependent on that, which enhances emotional congruent thoughts. Therefore, this suggests that negative thoughts are strictly based on mood dependent behaviour.

Theories of negative thinking concepts:

Theories that are based around the concept of ‘negative thinking’, assume that it is your thinking style, which determines the way you cope with a specific situation. (Weismann & Beck 1978; Hollin& Barnier 1980.) Martaronu (1989:240) emphasises that it is our ability as individuals to understand various styles of thinking, from this we adapt and follow a specific strategic way of thinking. This analysis predicts that we, as individuals have control over what “styles” we choose and therefore can manipulate our thinking in order to fit with a specific style. Kidah (1989:12) defines the term thinking, as “inner speech,” similar to the way we write words on to a page. This method allows you to control the way you perceive negative thoughts in order to combat negative cognitions. However, the concept of inner speech is often debated; Alain (1990:32) suggests that “cognitive processing needs further investigation.”

A similar technique to inner speech is known as ‘constructive thinking’, this is a form of therapy, or self help, which is used to prevent the formation of negative intrusive thoughts, or to reduce the frequency of the thought. Such techniques have often been used in support therapies, such as counselling and mentoring (Epstein 1989; Kats 1997; Elsevie 1997). Furthermore, Epstein (1989:226) found that constructive thinking is perceived as “a mental activity that is relevant to practical, social, and emotional intelligence,” which can enhance success of living positively. Additionally it suggests, “It is the ability to learn directly from experience,” which allows us to live more positively. Research by Epstein (1993:227) focuses on numerous coping styles that indicate; “thinking constructively” has proven to help reduce negativity in some cases. Data, which supports this theory, was retrieved by using diary entries and monologues created by students. However, it is important to acknowledge that there are negative consequences associated with using diaries as a method of collecting data. Diary extracts may have been created a considerable amount of time after the event, The theorist Symon ,(2004) supports this statement by stating that using diaries as a method of data collection have many advantages and limitations , yet this is similar to all methods of data collection , however, there is some practicalities that can be undertaken, to assure the diary is relevant such as ‘piloting’ the diary beforehand. ‘In conjunction with the findings, this view needs to be considered when discussing the theories relevance to support the idea, that constructive thinking helps the individual to experience less negative thoughts.

Other theories of negative thinking:

Memory:

In the light of recent research that looks into ‘memory and thinking’ Conway & Pleydell, (2000:??) introduces the idea that “memory underlines an individual’s sense of self, it is this idea that assumes as individuals our memory defines us as human entities. Therefore, memory is an important factor when depicting the characteristics of someone that is consistently experiencing negative thoughts. Conway (1997) looks into specific memory models, which attempts to explain the memory process.

Other theorists such as Tulving (1972:&&) have previously looked at the different types of memory such as episodic, semantic and autobiographical memory. He defines autobiographical memory as being where “we preserve knowledge of an experienced event.” This suggests that past events are remembered, which hold some kind of significance to the individual, these memories are later retrieved when under pressure. Literature that is more recent has provided support for the definition. In the study of Garber and Hollin (1980) who focus on thinking patterns of depressed individuals, found that the self-schemas created by a depressed individual, in most cases had derived from their experiences. This therefore suggests that depressed individuals used their past memories as a way of dealing with life stress. According to Lewis (1952), self-schemas are defined as our awareness of our perceptions, feelings, and commitment to our own personalities. Moreover, past research created by Broadbent, (1986) linked autobiographical memory to emotions within suicidal patients. These findings sustain the idea that memory plays a specific role in the ability to overcome cognitive distortions of oneself and how past experiences can play a part in how each individual overcomes issues within their lives.

The models of memory have proven to be relevant in providing a framework of thinking and problem solving (Conway, 1997.) However, knowledge based around memory has been under change since the 1970s. It also important to notify that research by Rubin (1982), looked into retrieval of autobiographical memories and found that age plays a significant role in the amount of memorable events recalled. Findings therefore suggest that the older generation tend to be more forgetful, when retrieving past information . Therefore due to these findings this specific theory is considered a limitation to the idea that memory , creates the onset of automatic thoughts. As not everyone has a good memory and suffer from memory loss ,yet still experience negative thoughts. Research carried out by (Brewin, Christodoulides, & Hutchinson, 1996) goes on to support this claim that autobiographical memories are not representative, by depicting the differences between Intrusive memories and an intrusive thought. The theorists suggest that memories are of specific events, places, or times that occurred in an individual’s experience, whereas intrusive thoughts can be completely unrelated and referred to as “clang” associations. Therefore, more research needs to pay attention to the dissimilarity between the process of memory and an experience of an intrusive thought. It is clear from literature analysed that intrusive memories are recalled as either visual, auditory, or cognitive, which occur at unexpected times in settings that are unrelated to the topic of conversation, or the activity that is being engaged in during that time.

More historical approaches have touched on the idea of continuity and self-concept, James (1980:) takes a more philosophical view on how the mind and the world intertwines. He adopts the idea that consciousness is composed of two meanings, which are symbolised by two different concepts the “topic” and the “object.” Furthermore, James goes on to suggest that “the object of your thought, is really its whole content or deliverance,” whereas the topic is the subject of the thought. This process can be applied to the way we continue to link between the past, present and the future. This connection is reaffirmed by the ‘autobiographical memory model’, outlining that our inner story created by narratives are retrieved from our environment. Bluck, Causeway, Pleydell, & Pierce (2008) discusses the importance of memories. Research by ( ) has portrayed that memory can affect continuity which is needed to be able to view a future. Research that focuses on suicide, tends to criticise the theory of continuity, as it there lack of seeing a future which has lead to problems with mental health. However, there are external factors that need to be addressed when distinguishing between a clinical and a non-clinical patient.

Self esteem:

Hagga, Dyck and Ernist(1991) have linked negative thinking with levels of self-esteem in non-depressed individuals .Negative self-thinking, can be defined by three elements: negative content of the thought; the frequency of the thought and the level of automaticity. Firstly, the literature concluded that low self-esteem is built on the way negative cognitions emerge, for example, the degree to which thinking is a ‘habit’. However, the concept of ‘habit’ assumes that we do not have control over our own thoughts, that we follow a daily routine that as individuals we have come accustomed ourselves to, this comes down to our conscious awareness. Secondly, it also important to consider whether an individual’s own habits have been derived from our perceptions of oneself, for example our personality traits, which leads to perceiving ourselves as a particular person.

Bower (1981) argued that emotional state could provide a mood state dependent on that, which enhances emotional congruent thoughts. This literature therefore illustrates that the type of mood experienced at that time can influence our type of thinking style. Yet Teasdale and Bancroft (1997) analysis suggests, that it is happy and sad thoughts which can prompt an effect in an individual’s mood. In agreement with Bower, they suggest that our negative thoughts are created, in association with our state of mood.

Factors, which have been linked to severity of negative thinking, are the frequency of negative thoughts and the level of automaticity. As according to ( name ) it is a key component, which determines the severity of negative thinking in disorders such as bio polar, depression and many more.

Further research shows, changes in self-esteem among college students have received some empirical attention, no work has specially examined the relation between stress and self-esteem (Cristin, Goldman, Eugene, Wong (2003). However, some indirect work by Loeb and Magee (1992) reported on college students during the first two years of school. It looked at the changes associated with the transition of becoming a college student. They found self-esteem decreased in the first year, after the second year these factors: self-esteem; self confidence-importance; seeing oneself as not being average; being energetic; being reliable and viewing oneself as intelligent all improved. Past research found that students developed a more positive self-image over time, specifically in terms of showing a greater sense of intellectual ability (Astin, 1977). Furthermore, research from Waterman (1982) found that college years are of great importance for the development of a positive identity. Therefore, he is claims that college students continue to increase their self-esteem further whilst being at university, therefore overcoming their self-esteem issues with a more positive image of themselves.

Environmental situations:

All emotions are adaptive functions under different environmental situations, negative emotions, in particular, can become a source of concern (Garland Et al, 2010) as it these emotions that initiate the negative thought.

Thought process questionnaire:

Present research reflects that the relationship between the reliability of techniques that are used to combat negative thought and memory have been explored by the means of ‘The Thought Control’(TCQ) questionnaire (wells and Davis, 1994) . The questionnaire looks at the types of styles associated with combating negative thoughts. The components of the questionnaire consist of five sub categories: reappraisal, social, worry, suppression and punishment.

. The TCQ has been designed to measure an individual’s ability to overcome negative thoughts patterns. ‘Numerous studies have established that the control questionnaire and control strategies can be reliable measured using this scale,’ (Davies 1994:877)

Reappraisal:

One way of regulating negative thoughts, is known as ‘cognitive reappraisal’, which refers to the process in which people reinterpret the thought, questioning its validity and reliability and apply it to the situation (Gross, 1998). Recent literature formed by Ray et al (2010) examines the term ‘reappraisal’ and its use to regulate externally and internally responses using a series of self-measurable techniques and reporting facial EEMG. The task mainly accesses the up and down regulation of negativity, by using reappraisal of negative and neutral images, the participant was also instructed to increase or decrease or to change the negative response. Findings have suggested that cognitive reappraisal can be used to regulate up and down negative emotions. Previous research has supported these findings, suggesting that this study is replicable and can be applied to the knowledge that surrounds the reappraisal technique. Ray et al (2010:4) has also drawn on the positive parts to his research by suggesting that the present research “extends prior knowledge in several ways.” The research displays, that online report of negative distress can be modified, when eye blink startle responses are apparent. Additionally, the study reveals the usefulness of cognitive reappraisal to produce a negative affective reaction. Past literature relating to reappraisal have only intended to focus on using self-report measures, this can be criticised because self-report measure can cause demand characteristics. (Koriat, Melkman, Averill, & Lazarus, 1972).

Social:

A variety of Literature examines whether social support formed through relationships help reduce the severity of thinking negatively. Oakun & lockwood (2003) access the validity of this theme, research has introduced the idea that positive social exchanges create positive effects, however this is also a similar process for negative relationships (Rook, 1984). Articles have previously discussed the value of support networks to the wellbeing of people that are experiencing life stress, the New York Times, December 14, (1992) advertised the group known as the “friendship network” which offers a variety of group discussions, which effectively provide the individual with support to overcome these issues. The article illustrates its usefulness and outlines the increase support from professionals: Doctors; psychiatrists; psychologists; therapists and social workers that consistently demonstrate its accomplishments and recommend its services to their patients.

Oakun and Lockwood (2003) used Meta analysis techniques to examine the claims that social support and social negativity are not integrated. This assumption has been hugely debated in present research (Cohen, Wills 1985; House et al 1988). Lockwood (2003) results concluded that there was an association between social negativity and social support and health, which emphasises the importance in analysing positive and negative aspects of social, ties (Wills, Shinar 2000). It is important to note, despite the research findings showing a positive association, the method of data collection is open to criticism, as using meta-analysis of a method of data collection can be criticised on the grounds that trends and correlations can be masked (Spector 1981).

It is also imperative to understand that people react differently in many social situations specifically in gendered situations. Research conducted by Turner, Gervai, & Hinde (1993) proposed that females have more intimate and more emotionally expressive friendships than males. Females place emphasis on intimacy in friendship, where as males on shared activities. This assumes that women offer more support to their peers as they are able to express their feelings in a more productive way. Hinde (1997) points out that friendship is very difficult to define. It is one of few relationships not defined by the content of its interactions. However, it is clear that friendship does possess numerous qualities, such as enjoying each other’s company and taking part in shared activities, how this associates with negativity needs to be considered more in terms of its effect on living successfully.

Rawlings (1981) ‘six-stage model of friendship development’, defines the process in which the establishment of friendship is carried out, it is from this process we then “personalise” the relationship. The next stage is known as “Nascent Friendship” the development in which we work out private rules and patterns of interaction, the basis of the friendship. The next step is defined as “stabilized friendship,” which has been linked with level of trust formation, the final stage leads to drifting apart .where the friendship has run its course, and rules perhaps have been violated. When defining the process of the impact of social interaction has on an individual’s happiness. The model may provide support to the understanding that friendships are there as people seek to have their needs met. Furthermore, research (Avison et al, 2007:251)on social networks have suggested that a “support offered by social integrated groups has shown to be associated with fewer symptoms of emotional distress.” Suggesting that more time spent sharing our troubles we are shown to be happier people.

Worry:

More specifically a large number of high quality journals have offered support for the idea that stress reactive thoughts ,emotional thoughts and worrying thoughts are all significantly linked .All of which are distinct forms of thinking repetitively( Roof et al,2009;sarason,1984;)

The research conducted by Rood, (2009) sought to examine three forms of thinking, stress rumination, emotional rumination and worrying rumination, and the degree of which these concepts can be linked or separated from other forms of repetitive thinking. The associations between the numerous markers of repetitive thinking and symptoms of anxiety and depression were also analysed. Rumination has been defined as the process of reflection, which may become persistent Rood,(2009:)the aim of the research was to distinguish these forms as individual entities. The study specifically used a sample of non-clinical participants aged 10-18. Findings supported the analysis, that the stress-reactive rumination is an independent entity. However, other forms such as emotion and worry rumination were significantly linked, with worry being a high predictor of depression. Therefore, this suggests that worrying, stressful, and emotional ruminations are all attributes of depressive behaviour.

Rood (2009) also looked at response styles, mainly focusing on depression and anxiety behaviour in children and adolescents. The study used a ratio approach to measure a change in scores associated with depressive actions, in this case questionnaires was used. Results concluded that individuals who tend to used the strategy rumination to deal with negative emotions, have led to depression and anxious symptoms. It was also noted that individuals ,that tended to use distraction as a strategy led to a decrease in depressive attitudes. This is highly representative, when representing research that looks into negative behaviour, for example, more procedures can be put in place when targeting young people to reduce the amount of children that experience depression( Barnier 2004). However, it is also important to highlight that the research can be criticised on the method of analysis used.

Numerous thinkers,(Lyubomirsky and Tkach 2004; Nolen-Hoeksema1998:333;Fresco et al 2002)have supported these findings by suggesting, “In youth, emotion-focused rumination is positively associated with concurrent levels of depressive symptoms.” It is therefore important to find the root cause of why these clang associations are experienced and how carrying out specific procedure can reduce the frequency of such thoughts.

A lot of literature has led the assumption that worry is a predictor of negative thinking Hershc& Hayes(2010)examined the bias attention in worry in which they looked into high worriers and there reaction to attention. The participants were required to ignore worry related material, in one of two conditions. Findings found that attentional bias plays a significant role in worry and that its adjustment can help reduce excessive worry.

Sarason(1984,) looked into the idea that worry is possibly a predictor of interference. Results indicated that when worrying is accompanied with stress, negative self-beliefs and intrusive thoughts constitute cognitive interference, this assumption illustrates that worry can also affect performance due to interfering automatic thoughts. Similar findings, have been discussed within the relevant literature introduced by Start-up and Davey,(2001) the research tested three experimental conditions, which investigated mood as an input to understand worrying behaviour. The task included an interview procedure and an interaction task. Results identified that induced negative mood increased the number of worry been given out, in both the interview procedure and the interaction task, however in the second task the interaction procedure and the number of items the worriers gave out were affected by the stop rules which had been specified by the task. The findings therefore highlight that worriers significantly tend to give out more effects suggesting that mood could induce negative thoughts. Despite this claim, .According to Troufman(2007) who goes on to suggest that critical thinking can also be viewed as part of a “healthy mental life.” This is because the majority of individuals use the negativity as a way of learning from their mistakes. Schank, 1979) results have gone on to support this viewby suggesting that when we encounter anew problem, a person is reminded of past situations that share a strong similarity to the problem. This type of reminding experience serves to retrieve behaviours that were appropriate in earlier problem solving episodes.

Suppression

According to Freud,(1920:248) and his research on psychoanalysis. He defines the concept suppression as being a “conscious process” suggesting that suppression is a technique, which is done on purpose. However, the success of the technique is hugely debated. In the study by Hamilton et al (2004), research focused on the suppression of negative self-reliant thought, used a field study to collect data. Results showed that the term Suppression found to put people in a less positive mood, which led to lower self-evaluation of oneself in men. In addition using a field experiment to retrieve data, has led the research to be vulnerable to the idea that the experiment can suffer from lack of control suggesting there could of been external variables within the environment which could of led the participant to feel negatively. This method has often been replicated, in the research conducted by Sarason,&pierce,1980;Slade&Bentall,1988) Results found that ,thought control strategies have often led to insignificant findings, by enhancing more negative thoughts, leading to “meta worry.”

Similar results were identified in the study by Erdelyi& Goldeberg(1978) in which they found that 99 per cent of participants used suppression to avoid a negative thought. Further research into this area is important since suppression in some long term cases can possibly lead to aversive effects for example suppression has been previously linked to psychological and physiological problems,PenneBaker,(1989.)

Despite the growing realization that the technique suppression causes more damage due to its consistent need to be controlled, it is important to consider the process involved in suppressing such a thought for example the thought needs to be specifically thought of in order to be controlled and suppressed Wegner(1992:871). In turn, it is likely that more the nature of the thought could be considered an underlining factor.

Hamilton(2004) provides an explanation as to why Suppression tended to increase” meta worry” the differences between long-term suppression and short term. Furthermore, a growing body of research shows there are numerous effective approaches, when reducing the amount of negative thoughts experienced.

Barnier (2004:513) research looked into the ability of individuals with a “repressive coping style” to control negative thoughts of events from their past in relation to whether they are high anxiety events or low anxiety events. Results concluded that the success of repression has a lot to do with memory performance, in terms of their natural ability to avoid negative material within their everyday life. However, this analysis can also been seen as an attribute or a characteristic of a person, not necessarily a distinction between a negative person and a positive one.

2.4 Punishment

Punishment has been significantly linked to studies of depression and suicidal behaviour, Rosenthal et al,(1986) NEED TO LOOK AT MORE RESEARCH , WAS HARD TO FIND …..

Conclusion

The present study ,aims to investigate the techniques used in combating negative thinking and aims to explore each component of the TCQ questionnaire as they are commonly used in an individual’s day-to-day experiences. The area was chosen as one of personal interest, due to the common accessibility into negative cognitions. Martaronu (1989) argues that for most of us negative thoughts are seen as a fleeting annoyance. It is a common assumption that it is how we interpret this annoyance, which allows us to cope with the stressors of everyday life (Greenberg, 1973).laying the emphasis on the individual. Students were specifically chosen due to their amount of additional stress they tend to go through during their time at university. Such as increase in examinations, heightened aspirations, financial pressures, and increasingly impersonal institutions would lead to a rise in psychiatric illness amongst students (RCP, 2003)

The wide range of literature indicates that there are many factors that help reduce the effects of automatic thoughts (Hamilton, Beck, 1969; Leake, friend&Wadhwa, 1999; Duvall, 2001,) replacement, control, organization, perception. Despite the variety of techniques that have been associated with reducing negativity, the present study draws on five of these concepts, social, re-appraisal, distraction, worry, and punishment. The five categories were chosen specifically, due to them being characteristics that become commonly experienced by students on a day-to-day basis. In the light of relevant literature, that looks at student stress and the ways in which an individual generates negative thoughts, worry and social input have been closely linked with levels of anxiety (name.) According to K.J.Swick,1987) students find the academic experience very stressful, this could be due to additional stress that university causes, such as examinations ,parental expectations, worry for future security (RCB,2003.) However, according Duvall (2001) and his research into negative thinking and its relationship with life stress, current illnesses, are caused by the way people choose to live their lives. Furthermore, negativity has become more of a concern as statistics show that there is an increase in individuals taking anti depressants in 2010. Due to money related issues, resulting in more negative behaviour.(The times).

The importance on the individual to “reduce” these thoughts have been explored in more detail, focusing on specific themes such as the impact of memory on negative thinking, differences between clinical and non clinical negative thoughts. Support services in to helping individuals overcome negativity, the role of self-esteem, also the effectiveness of using The TCQ questionnaire to measure the techniques associated with negative thinking.

Negative thinking has become frequently associated with psychological problems, specifically depression and levels of stress, anxiety, anger (Aydin, 1996; Vitousek, 1996.it is also important to consider the role of the individual in the process of generating these types of thoughts ,and what triggers these kinds of thoughts. It could be argued that experience is how you specifically interpret an event and its comparisons. The present empirical study aims to access these trends.

Hypothesis:

It will be hypothesised that individuals who show signs of worry or obsessive behaviour are more likely to experience a higher frequency of negative thoughts.

It will be hypothesised that individuals with high levels of self esteem will exsprience a negative thought less frequently.

Method:

Design

A within participants design was used to assess two types of conditions. The first condition looked at what type of style an individual tends to use when combatting negative thoughts. Styles measured were those similar to the study by Hamilton (2004) second condition measured the frequency of negative intrusive thoughts when asked a set of structured questions regarding emotions. The independent variable was the type of style used. The dependant variable, the frequency of the intrusive thoughts the participant experienced during the experiment.

Participants:

Participants were 60 students at the Nottingham Trent University. Age ranged from 19-25 (M=) (S.D=). The sample consisted of both male and female participants, 30 males and 30 females. Participants were free from any previous mental issues.

Participants were obtained by opportunistic sampling. Participants remained completely naive about the aims and purpose of the study until debriefing.

Materials:

The experiment used ‘The TCQ Questionnaire’ created by Wells and Davis (1994) which was originally pooled by using semi-structured interviews with a group of clinical participants. Findings discussed within the interviews identified fifty nine control strategies, which were grouped into seven distinct categories: social; (I ask my friends if they have similar thoughts.) reappraisal; (I try reinterpret the thought) worry (I shout at myself for having the thought), punishment; (I slap or pinch myself for having the thought) and distraction (I keep myself busy). The TCQ Questionnaire measured the various techniques in combatting negative thought patterns. Findings proved the scale to have consistent validity, illustrating that the five variables of negative thinking can be reliably measured using the TCQ questionnaire, Internal consistency of‘ subscales Cronbach coefficient alphas were computed for the individual sub-scales (n = 229) and were as follows: Distraction = 0.72; Social Control = 0.79; Worry = 0.71; Punishment = 0.64; Re-appraisal= 0.67. Therefore indicating the internal consistency of the scale Cronbach’s ? (max 1; ? > .70 acceptable; ? > .90 is good) .The scale correlates with observable behaviour, however there has been mixed reviews with correlating with similar research based on the validity of the scale (Fehm and Hoyer, ( ). Concurrent validation of the TCQ is somewhat problematic due to the parallel measures of thought control not being available. For the second task the experiment used specific question Q1 (frequency of thought)q2 (self esteem)Q3 mood dependant which were similar to the research carried out by Hagga, Dkye & Ernest (1993) this was to measure the frequency of negative thoughts in each individual. The questionnaire showed good content validity. Consent forms were given out to provide evidence of the conformation of the participant.

Procedure:

Firstly, the participants were asked to complete a consent form allowing their results to be used in the research. Participants were then asked to fill out the TCQ questionnaire; the questionnaire instructed them of what was being asked of them, participants were asked whether they understood the general process of the task. Questions were considered self-explanatory. The questions however contained enough support information. Once the questionnaire had been completed, the second task took place, the participants were asked four questions regarding how frequently they experienced automatic negative thoughts ; daily basis, whether they felt the negative thoughts were mood dependant, or due to levels of self-esteem, the specificity of the question is linked to previous literature surrounding self-image and mood Bower( 2004). The fourth condition, involved a small task where the participant was asked to press a bell when they experienced a negative thought, when talking about a general day, which they remember in their lifetime.

Results from the tasks were recorded and then later analysed against the questionnaire for any significance. Participants were then debriefed of the purpose of the study.

Data analysis:

Multiple regression was used in this particular procedure, as the technique allows you to predict the frequency of how often a negative thought is experienced on the basis of their scores on several other variables included within the ‘thought control’ questionnaire.

Results:

Abstract:

In accordance with previous research, Aydin (1996) found that negative thinking is associated with the application of specific psychological disorders, such as depression and anxiety; additionally Stroud (2010) supports this analysis. The current study was undertaken to measure the influence of negativity on a student population, as previous research has specifically focused on clinical participants. Further investigation is needed to discover how individual thinking strategies can affect how frequently a negative thought occurs. Therefore, it was decided that the thought control questionnaire would be the most appropriate measure of negativity. The questionnaire is used to identify whether social control, reappraisal, worry, or punishment can mediate the frequency of negativity and the impact on an individual’s self-esteem. Analysis included a parametric test using a multiple regression. Results found that overall, the thought control questionnaire approached significance, and therefore considered reliable when interpreting which factors increased negativity. Additionally, the first condition: worrying behaviour was found to be a predictive variable in relation to how often a negative thought occurs.

Introduction:

Frequent negative thoughts are often perceived to be a burden to the individual and are considered a common occurrence within the process of thought patterns (Edwards & Dickery, 1987.) Negative thinking and self-esteem have been linked to many psychological illnesses, such as eating disorders (Aydin, 1996; Vitousek, 1996.) Additionally, Wells (2004) found that levels of perfectionism and anxiety disorders are also linked with negative thought processes. This suggests that negativity can have an adverse effect on psychological illnesses, perhaps making them worse in some cases. For example, Stroud et al (2010) found that negativity can increase levels of depression and as a result, negativity can affect suicide rates (Flett, Hewitt, Blankstein; Grey 1998; Wong et al 2003.) It is evident that previous literature has predominantly focused on negative thinking within clinical domains, therefore despite the prevalence of literature; little emphasis has investigated factors that may influence negativity within a non-clinical population (Davies, 1994).

There is an increased concern in reducing the severity of illnesses such as depression this therefore shows that as a result the non-clinical population is not considered of importance (study). This can be seen as a limitation. This research is supported by Donohue1, (2007) who found many programmes attempting to combat negativity, specifically focused on patients suffering from depression. Therefore, further investigation is needed to help others who are suffering from negative thoughts, who have not been diagnosed with similar disorders. This will also provide a clear distinction between clinical and non-clinical behaviour in regards to what is acceptable. Further investigation of negativity is of critical importantance, as Verplanken et al, (2007:526) suggests, “Self-evaluations are important elements of reflexive consciousness.” This implies that the conscious awareness of an individual is significantly associated with negative thoughts patterns. However Bower (1981), disagrees with this view and states that emotional state could provide a mood state dependent on that, which enhances emotional congruent thoughts. Therefore, this suggests that negative thoughts are strictly based on mood dependent behaviour.

Theories of negative thinking concepts:

Theories that are based around the concept of ‘negative thinking’, assume that it is your thinking style, which determines the way you cope with a specific situation. (Weismann & Beck 1978; Hollin& Barnier 1980.) Martaronu (1989:240) emphasises that it is our ability as individuals to understand various styles of thinking, from this we adapt and follow a specific strategic way of thinking. This analysis predicts that we, as individuals have control over what “styles” we choose and therefore can manipulate our thinking in order to fit with a specific style. Kidah (1989:12) defines the term thinking, as “inner speech,” similar to the way we write words on to a page. This method allows you to control the way you perceive negative thoughts in order to combat negative cognitions. However, the concept of inner speech is often debated; Alain (1990:32) suggests that “cognitive processing needs further investigation.”

A similar technique to inner speech is known as ‘constructive thinking’, this is a form of therapy, or self help, which is used to prevent the formation of negative intrusive thoughts, or to reduce the frequency of the thought. Such techniques have often been used in support therapies, such as counselling and mentoring (Epstein 1989; Kats 1997; Elsevie 1997). Furthermore, Epstein (1989:226) found that constructive thinking is perceived as “a mental activity that is relevant to practical, social, and emotional intelligence,” which can enhance success of living positively. Additionally it suggests, “It is the ability to learn directly from experience,” which allows us to live more positively. Research by Epstein (1993:227) focuses on numerous coping styles that indicate; “thinking constructively” has proven to help reduce negativity in some cases. Data, which supports this theory, was retrieved by using diary entries and monologues created by students. However, it is important to acknowledge that there are negative consequences associated with using diaries as a method of collecting data. Diary extracts may have been created a considerable amount of time after the event, The theorist Symon ,(2004) supports this statement by stating that using diaries as a method of data collection have many advantages and limitations , yet this is similar to all methods of data collection , however, there is some practicalities that can be undertaken, to assure the diary is relevant such as ‘piloting’ the diary beforehand. ‘In conjunction with the findings, this view needs to be considered when discussing the theories relevance to support the idea, that constructive thinking helps the individual to experience less negative thoughts.

Other theories of negative thinking:

Memory:

In the light of recent research that looks into ‘memory and thinking’ Conway & Pleydell, (2000:??) introduces the idea that “memory underlines an individual’s sense of self, it is this idea that assumes as individuals our memory defines us as human entities. Therefore, memory is an important factor when depicting the characteristics of someone that is consistently experiencing negative thoughts. Conway (1997) looks into specific memory models, which attempts to explain the memory process.

Other theorists such as Tulving (1972:&&) have previously looked at the different types of memory such as episodic, semantic and autobiographical memory. He defines autobiographical memory as being where “we preserve knowledge of an experienced event.” This suggests that past events are remembered, which hold some kind of significance to the individual, these memories are later retrieved when under pressure. Literature that is more recent has provided support for the definition. In the study of Garber and Hollin (1980) who focus on thinking patterns of depressed individuals, found that the self-schemas created by a depressed individual, in most cases had derived from their experiences. This therefore suggests that depressed individuals used their past memories as a way of dealing with life stress. According to Lewis (1952), self-schemas are defined as our awareness of our perceptions, feelings, and commitment to our own personalities. Moreover, past research created by Broadbent, (1986) linked autobiographical memory to emotions within suicidal patients. These findings sustain the idea that memory plays a specific role in the ability to overcome cognitive distortions of oneself and how past experiences can play a part in how each individual overcomes issues within their lives.

The models of memory have proven to be relevant in providing a framework of thinking and problem solving (Conway, 1997.) However, knowledge based around memory has been under change since the 1970s. It also important to notify that research by Rubin (1982), looked into retrieval of autobiographical memories and found that age plays a significant role in the amount of memorable events recalled. Findings therefore suggest that the older generation tend to be more forgetful, when retrieving past information . Therefore due to these findings this specific theory is considered a limitation to the idea that memory , creates the onset of automatic thoughts. As not everyone has a good memory and suffer from memory loss ,yet still experience negative thoughts. Research carried out by (Brewin, Christodoulides, & Hutchinson, 1996) goes on to support this claim that autobiographical memories are not representative, by depicting the differences between Intrusive memories and an intrusive thought. The theorists suggest that memories are of specific events, places, or times that occurred in an individual’s experience, whereas intrusive thoughts can be completely unrelated and referred to as “clang” associations. Therefore, more research needs to pay attention to the dissimilarity between the process of memory and an experience of an intrusive thought. It is clear from literature analysed that intrusive memories are recalled as either visual, auditory, or cognitive, which occur at unexpected times in settings that are unrelated to the topic of conversation, or the activity that is being engaged in during that time.

More historical approaches have touched on the idea of continuity and self-concept, James (1980:) takes a more philosophical view on how the mind and the world intertwines. He adopts the idea that consciousness is composed of two meanings, which are symbolised by two different concepts the “topic” and the “object.” Furthermore, James goes on to suggest that “the object of your thought, is really its whole content or deliverance,” whereas the topic is the subject of the thought. This process can be applied to the way we continue to link between the past, present and the future. This connection is reaffirmed by the ‘autobiographical memory model’, outlining that our inner story created by narratives are retrieved from our environment. Bluck, Causeway, Pleydell, & Pierce (2008) discusses the importance of memories. Research by ( ) has portrayed that memory can affect continuity which is needed to be able to view a future. Research that focuses on suicide, tends to criticise the theory of continuity, as it there lack of seeing a future which has lead to problems with mental health. However, there are external factors that need to be addressed when distinguishing between a clinical and a non-clinical patient.

Self esteem:

Hagga, Dyck and Ernist(1991) have linked negative thinking with levels of self-esteem in non-depressed individuals .Negative self-thinking, can be defined by three elements: negative content of the thought; the frequency of the thought and the level of automaticity. Firstly, the literature concluded that low self-esteem is built on the way negative cognitions emerge, for example, the degree to which thinking is a ‘habit’. However, the concept of ‘habit’ assumes that we do not have control over our own thoughts, that we follow a daily routine that as individuals we have come accustomed ourselves to, this comes down to our conscious awareness. Secondly, it also important to consider whether an individual’s own habits have been derived from our perceptions of oneself, for example our personality traits, which leads to perceiving ourselves as a particular person.

Bower (1981) argued that emotional state could provide a mood state dependent on that, which enhances emotional congruent thoughts. This literature therefore illustrates that the type of mood experienced at that time can influence our type of thinking style. Yet Teasdale and Bancroft (1997) analysis suggests, that it is happy and sad thoughts which can prompt an effect in an individual’s mood. In agreement with Bower, they suggest that our negative thoughts are created, in association with our state of mood.

Factors, which have been linked to severity of negative thinking, are the frequency of negative thoughts and the level of automaticity. As according to ( name ) it is a key component, which determines the severity of negative thinking in disorders such as bio polar, depression and many more.

Further research shows, changes in self-esteem among college students have received some empirical attention, no work has specially examined the relation between stress and self-esteem (Cristin, Goldman, Eugene, Wong (2003). However, some indirect work by Loeb and Magee (1992) reported on college students during the first two years of school. It looked at the changes associated with the transition of becoming a college student. They found self-esteem decreased in the first year, after the second year these factors: self-esteem; self confidence-importance; seeing oneself as not being average; being energetic; being reliable and viewing oneself as intelligent all improved. Past research found that students developed a more positive self-image over time, specifically in terms of showing a greater sense of intellectual ability (Astin, 1977). Furthermore, research from Waterman (1982) found that college years are of great importance for the development of a positive identity. Therefore, he is claims that college students continue to increase their self-esteem further whilst being at university, therefore overcoming their self-esteem issues with a more positive image of themselves.

Environmental situations:

All emotions are adaptive functions under different environmental situations, negative emotions, in particular, can become a source of concern (Garland Et al, 2010) as it these emotions that initiate the negative thought.

Thought process questionnaire:

Present research reflects that the relationship between the reliability of techniques that are used to combat negative thought and memory have been explored by the means of ‘The Thought Control’(TCQ) questionnaire (wells and Davis, 1994) . The questionnaire looks at the types of styles associated with combating negative thoughts. The components of the questionnaire consist of five sub categories: reappraisal, social, worry, suppression and punishment.

. The TCQ has been designed to measure an individual’s ability to overcome negative thoughts patterns. ‘Numerous studies have established that the control questionnaire and control strategies can be reliable measured using this scale,’ (Davies 1994:877)

Reappraisal:

One way of regulating negative thoughts, is known as ‘cognitive reappraisal’, which refers to the process in which people reinterpret the thought, questioning its validity and reliability and apply it to the situation (Gross, 1998). Recent literature formed by Ray et al (2010) examines the term ‘reappraisal’ and its use to regulate externally and internally responses using a series of self-measurable techniques and reporting facial EEMG. The task mainly accesses the up and down regulation of negativity, by using reappraisal of negative and neutral images, the participant was also instructed to increase or decrease or to change the negative response. Findings have suggested that cognitive reappraisal can be used to regulate up and down negative emotions. Previous research has supported these findings, suggesting that this study is replicable and can be applied to the knowledge that surrounds the reappraisal technique. Ray et al (2010:4) has also drawn on the positive parts to his research by suggesting that the present research “extends prior knowledge in several ways.” The research displays, that online report of negative distress can be modified, when eye blink startle responses are apparent. Additionally, the study reveals the usefulness of cognitive reappraisal to produce a negative affective reaction. Past literature relating to reappraisal have only intended to focus on using self-report measures, this can be criticised because self-report measure can cause demand characteristics. (Koriat, Melkman, Averill, & Lazarus, 1972).

Social:

A variety of Literature examines whether social support formed through relationships help reduce the severity of thinking negatively. Oakun & lockwood (2003) access the validity of this theme, research has introduced the idea that positive social exchanges create positive effects, however this is also a similar process for negative relationships (Rook, 1984). Articles have previously discussed the value of support networks to the wellbeing of people that are experiencing life stress, the New York Times, December 14, (1992) advertised the group known as the “friendship network” which offers a variety of group discussions, which effectively provide the individual with support to overcome these issues. The article illustrates its usefulness and outlines the increase support from professionals: Doctors; psychiatrists; psychologists; therapists and social workers that consistently demonstrate its accomplishments and recommend its services to their patients.

Oakun and Lockwood (2003) used Meta analysis techniques to examine the claims that social support and social negativity are not integrated. This assumption has been hugely debated in present research (Cohen, Wills 1985; House et al 1988). Lockwood (2003) results concluded that there was an association between social negativity and social support and health, which emphasises the importance in analysing positive and negative aspects of social, ties (Wills, Shinar 2000). It is important to note, despite the research findings showing a positive association, the method of data collection is open to criticism, as using meta-analysis of a method of data collection can be criticised on the grounds that trends and correlations can be masked (Spector 1981).

It is also imperative to understand that people react differently in many social situations specifically in gendered situations. Research conducted by Turner, Gervai, & Hinde (1993) proposed that females have more intimate and more emotionally expressive friendships than males. Females place emphasis on intimacy in friendship, where as males on shared activities. This assumes that women offer more support to their peers as they are able to express their feelings in a more productive way. Hinde (1997) points out that friendship is very difficult to define. It is one of few relationships not defined by the content of its interactions. However, it is clear that friendship does possess numerous qualities, such as enjoying each other’s company and taking part in shared activities, how this associates with negativity needs to be considered more in terms of its effect on living successfully.

Rawlings (1981) ‘six-stage model of friendship development’, defines the process in which the establishment of friendship is carried out, it is from this process we then “personalise” the relationship. The next stage is known as “Nascent Friendship” the development in which we work out private rules and patterns of interaction, the basis of the friendship. The next step is defined as “stabilized friendship,” which has been linked with level of trust formation, the final stage leads to drifting apart .where the friendship has run its course, and rules perhaps have been violated. When defining the process of the impact of social interaction has on an individual’s happiness. The model may provide support to the understanding that friendships are there as people seek to have their needs met. Furthermore, research (Avison et al, 2007:251)on social networks have suggested that a “support offered by social integrated groups has shown to be associated with fewer symptoms of emotional distress.” Suggesting that more time spent sharing our troubles we are shown to be happier people.

Worry:

More specifically a large number of high quality journals have offered support for the idea that stress reactive thoughts ,emotional thoughts and worrying thoughts are all significantly linked .All of which are distinct forms of thinking repetitively( Roof et al,2009;sarason,1984;)

The research conducted by Rood, (2009) sought to examine three forms of thinking, stress rumination, emotional rumination and worrying rumination, and the degree of which these concepts can be linked or separated from other forms of repetitive thinking. The associations between the numerous markers of repetitive thinking and symptoms of anxiety and depression were also analysed. Rumination has been defined as the process of reflection, which may become persistent Rood,(2009:)the aim of the research was to distinguish these forms as individual entities. The study specifically used a sample of non-clinical participants aged 10-18. Findings supported the analysis, that the stress-reactive rumination is an independent entity. However, other forms such as emotion and worry rumination were significantly linked, with worry being a high predictor of depression. Therefore, this suggests that worrying, stressful, and emotional ruminations are all attributes of depressive behaviour.

Rood (2009) also looked at response styles, mainly focusing on depression and anxiety behaviour in children and adolescents. The study used a ratio approach to measure a change in scores associated with depressive actions, in this case questionnaires was used. Results concluded that individuals who tend to used the strategy rumination to deal with negative emotions, have led to depression and anxious symptoms. It was also noted that individuals ,that tended to use distraction as a strategy led to a decrease in depressive attitudes. This is highly representative, when representing research that looks into negative behaviour, for example, more procedures can be put in place when targeting young people to reduce the amount of children that experience depression( Barnier 2004). However, it is also important to highlight that the research can be criticised on the method of analysis used.

Numerous thinkers,(Lyubomirsky and Tkach 2004; Nolen-Hoeksema1998:333;Fresco et al 2002)have supported these findings by suggesting, “In youth, emotion-focused rumination is positively associated with concurrent levels of depressive symptoms.” It is therefore important to find the root cause of why these clang associations are experienced and how carrying out specific procedure can reduce the frequency of such thoughts.

A lot of literature has led the assumption that worry is a predictor of negative thinking Hershc& Hayes(2010)examined the bias attention in worry in which they looked into high worriers and there reaction to attention. The participants were required to ignore worry related material, in one of two conditions. Findings found that attentional bias plays a significant role in worry and that its adjustment can help reduce excessive worry.

Sarason(1984,) looked into the idea that worry is possibly a predictor of interference. Results indicated that when worrying is accompanied with stress, negative self-beliefs and intrusive thoughts constitute cognitive interference, this assumption illustrates that worry can also affect performance due to interfering automatic thoughts. Similar findings, have been discussed within the relevant literature introduced by Start-up and Davey,(2001) the research tested three experimental conditions, which investigated mood as an input to understand worrying behaviour. The task included an interview procedure and an interaction task. Results identified that induced negative mood increased the number of worry been given out, in both the interview procedure and the interaction task, however in the second task the interaction procedure and the number of items the worriers gave out were affected by the stop rules which had been specified by the task. The findings therefore highlight that worriers significantly tend to give out more effects suggesting that mood could induce negative thoughts. Despite this claim, .According to Troufman(2007) who goes on to suggest that critical thinking can also be viewed as part of a “healthy mental life.” This is because the majority of individuals use the negativity as a way of learning from their mistakes. Schank, 1979) results have gone on to support this viewby suggesting that when we encounter anew problem, a person is reminded of past situations that share a strong similarity to the problem. This type of reminding experience serves to retrieve behaviours that were appropriate in earlier problem solving episodes.

Suppression

According to Freud,(1920:248) and his research on psychoanalysis. He defines the concept suppression as being a “conscious process” suggesting that suppression is a technique, which is done on purpose. However, the success of the technique is hugely debated. In the study by Hamilton et al (2004), research focused on the suppression of negative self-reliant thought, used a field study to collect data. Results showed that the term Suppression found to put people in a less positive mood, which led to lower self-evaluation of oneself in men. In addition using a field experiment to retrieve data, has led the research to be vulnerable to the idea that the experiment can suffer from lack of control suggesting there could of been external variables within the environment which could of led the participant to feel negatively. This method has often been replicated, in the research conducted by Sarason,&pierce,1980;Slade&Bentall,1988) Results found that ,thought control strategies have often led to insignificant findings, by enhancing more negative thoughts, leading to “meta worry.”

Similar results were identified in the study by Erdelyi& Goldeberg(1978) in which they found that 99 per cent of participants used suppression to avoid a negative thought. Further research into this area is important since suppression in some long term cases can possibly lead to aversive effects for example suppression has been previously linked to psychological and physiological problems,PenneBaker,(1989.)

Despite the growing realization that the technique suppression causes more damage due to its consistent need to be controlled, it is important to consider the process involved in suppressing such a thought for example the thought needs to be specifically thought of in order to be controlled and suppressed Wegner(1992:871). In turn, it is likely that more the nature of the thought could be considered an underlining factor.

Hamilton(2004) provides an explanation as to why Suppression tended to increase” meta worry” the differences between long-term suppression and short term. Furthermore, a growing body of research shows there are numerous effective approaches, when reducing the amount of negative thoughts experienced.

Barnier (2004:513) research looked into the ability of individuals with a “repressive coping style” to control negative thoughts of events from their past in relation to whether they are high anxiety events or low anxiety events. Results concluded that the success of repression has a lot to do with memory performance, in terms of their natural ability to avoid negative material within their everyday life. However, this analysis can also been seen as an attribute or a characteristic of a person, not necessarily a distinction between a negative person and a positive one.

2.4 Punishment

Punishment has been significantly linked to studies of depression and suicidal behaviour, Rosenthal et al,(1986) NEED TO LOOK AT MORE RESEARCH , WAS HARD TO FIND …..

Conclusion
The present study ,aims to investigate the techniques used in combating negative thinking and aims to explore each component of the TCQ questionnaire as they are commonly used in an individual’s day-to-day experiences. The area was chosen as one of personal interest, due to the common accessibility into negative cognitions. Martaronu (1989) argues that for most of us negative thoughts are seen as a fleeting annoyance. It is a common assumption that it is how we interpret this annoyance, which allows us to cope with the stressors of everyday life (Greenberg, 1973).laying the emphasis on the individual. Students were specifically chosen due to their amount of additional stress they tend to go through during their time at university. Such as increase in examinations, heightened aspirations, financial pressures, and increasingly impersonal institutions would lead to a rise in psychiatric illness amongst students (RCP, 2003)

The wide range of literature indicates that there are many factors that help reduce the effects of automatic thoughts (Hamilton, Beck, 1969; Leake, friend&Wadhwa, 1999; Duvall, 2001,) replacement, control, organization, perception. Despite the variety of techniques that have been associated with reducing negativity, the present study draws on five of these concepts, social, re-appraisal, distraction, worry, and punishment. The five categories were chosen specifically, due to them being characteristics that become commonly experienced by students on a day-to-day basis. In the light of relevant literature, that looks at student stress and the ways in which an individual generates negative thoughts, worry and social input have been closely linked with levels of anxiety (name.) According to K.J.Swick,1987) students find the academic experience very stressful, this could be due to additional stress that university causes, such as examinations ,parental expectations, worry for future security (RCB,2003.) However, according Duvall (2001) and his research into negative thinking and its relationship with life stress, current illnesses, are caused by the way people choose to live their lives. Furthermore, negativity has become more of a concern as statistics show that there is an increase in individuals taking anti depressants in 2010. Due to money related issues, resulting in more negative behaviour.(The times).

The importance on the individual to “reduce” these thoughts have been explored in more detail, focusing on specific themes such as the impact of memory on negative thinking, differences between clinical and non clinical negative thoughts. Support services in to helping individuals overcome negativity, the role of self-esteem, also the effectiveness of using The TCQ questionnaire to measure the techniques associated with negative thinking.

Negative thinking has become frequently associated with psychological problems, specifically depression and levels of stress, anxiety, anger (Aydin, 1996; Vitousek, 1996.it is also important to consider the role of the individual in the process of generating these types of thoughts ,and what triggers these kinds of thoughts. It could be argued that experience is how you specifically interpret an event and its comparisons. The present empirical study aims to access these trends.

Hypothesis:

It will be hypothesised that individuals who show signs of worry or obsessive behaviour are more likely to experience a higher frequency of negative thoughts.

It will be hypothesised that individuals with high levels of self esteem will exsprience a negative thought less frequently.

Method:

Design

A within participants design was used to assess two types of conditions. The first condition looked at what type of style an individual tends to use when combatting negative thoughts. Styles measured were those similar to the study by Hamilton (2004) second condition measured the frequency of negative intrusive thoughts when asked a set of structured questions regarding emotions. The independent variable was the type of style used. The dependant variable, the frequency of the intrusive thoughts the participant experienced during the experiment.

Participants:

Participants were 60 students at the Nottingham Trent University. Age ranged from 19-25 (M=) (S.D=). The sample consisted of both male and female participants, 30 males and 30 females. Participants were free from any previous mental issues.

Participants were obtained by opportunistic sampling. Participants remained completely naive about the aims and purpose of the study until debriefing.

Materials:

The experiment used ‘The TCQ Questionnaire’ created by Wells and Davis (1994) which was originally pooled by using semi-structured interviews with a group of clinical participants. Findings discussed within the interviews identified fifty nine control strategies, which were grouped into seven distinct categories: social; (I ask my friends if they have similar thoughts.) reappraisal; (I try reinterpret the thought) worry (I shout at myself for having the thought), punishment; (I slap or pinch myself for having the thought) and distraction (I keep myself busy). The TCQ Questionnaire measured the various techniques in combatting negative thought patterns. Findings proved the scale to have consistent validity, illustrating that the five variables of negative thinking can be reliably measured using the TCQ questionnaire, Internal consistency of‘ subscales Cronbach coefficient alphas were computed for the individual sub-scales (n = 229) and were as follows: Distraction = 0.72; Social Control = 0.79; Worry = 0.71; Punishment = 0.64; Re-appraisal= 0.67. Therefore indicating the internal consistency of the scale Cronbach’s ? (max 1; ? > .70 acceptable; ? > .90 is good) .The scale correlates with observable behaviour, however there has been mixed reviews with correlating with similar research based on the validity of the scale (Fehm and Hoyer, ( ). Concurrent validation of the TCQ is somewhat problematic due to the parallel measures of thought control not being available. For the second task the experiment used specific question Q1 (frequency of thought)q2 (self esteem)Q3 mood dependant which were similar to the research carried out by Hagga, Dkye & Ernest (1993) this was to measure the frequency of negative thoughts in each individual. The questionnaire showed good content validity. Consent forms were given out to provide evidence of the conformation of the participant.

Procedure:

Firstly, the participants were asked to complete a consent form allowing their results to be used in the research. Participants were then asked to fill out the TCQ questionnaire; the questionnaire instructed them of what was being asked of them, participants were asked whether they understood the general process of the task. Questions were considered self-explanatory. The questions however contained enough support information. Once the questionnaire had been completed, the second task took place, the participants were asked four questions regarding how frequently they experienced automatic negative thoughts ; daily basis, whether they felt the negative thoughts were mood dependant, or due to levels of self-esteem, the specificity of the question is linked to previous literature surrounding self-image and mood Bower( 2004). The fourth condition, involved a small task where the participant was asked to press a bell when they experienced a negative thought, when talking about a general day, which they remember in their lifetime.

Results from the tasks were recorded and then later analysed against the questionnaire for any significance. Participants were then debriefed of the purpose of the study.

Data analysis:

Multiple regression was used in this particular procedure, as the technique allows you to predict the frequency of how often a negative thought is experienced on the basis of their scores on several other variables included within the ‘thought control’ questionnaire.

Results:

A multiple linear regression was performed, four times the first MR test had an index of frequency of negative thinking , as the dependent variable and five personality variables (social, reappraisal ,distraction, worry and punishment ) as the predictor variables. The model approached significance and therefore was valid in providing a representation of the predictor variable worry.

The regression was a moderate fit (R2adj =17.4% ) and the overall relationship was proven to be insignificant: F(5,54) = 0.61, p > .05. The model did not violate multicolinearity with tolerance and VIF being in the above 20 but lower than 10, this was the same for all the regression models.

The significant predictor of negative thinking index DV is listed in table .1.

The association between the criterion and the explanatory variables is moderately not very strong (multiple R = 0.61).

Together social. Reappraisal, distraction, worry and punishment accounted for17.4% of the variation in preference for the frequency of experiencing a negative thought (DV). One of the predictor variables worry was significantly and negatively, associated with preference of how many negative thoughts they has experienced during an average day (DV) as worry increases other predictors such as distraction, reappraisal and social decreases. The regression coefficient for worry was .359 (95% CI = 0.68 – 403*), the standardised regression coefficients show that, of the significant predictors, worry is the best predictor of stress (Beta = ..359)

Discussion

The aim of the study was to assess the usefulness of the theory behind thinking strategies of a student population, in regards to how often they experienced a negative thought. It was important to look at the process of negative thinking, and the strategies used to reduce such thoughts. This is because previous research have shown that techniques that have been used to address the issue of depression, have had conflicting results; for example (Flett, Hewitt,Blankstein and grey 1998;Wong et al 2003,) draws on how negative thinking has been linked with the rates of suicide. This according to Epstein (1993) is a consequence of negative thinking, which can be monitored and reduced using constructive thinking strategies, these techniques have been identified within the thought control questionnaire. Therefore, it is important to investigate what specific techniques can be used to reduce the severity of such attitudes. According to Edwards and Dickery (1987)negative thinking has been perceived as a fleeting annoyance, suggesting that it is a common assumption that everyone experiences a negative thought ,however, it is how frequent the thoughts are experienced that generates how negative an individual is Teasdale (1978.)Research conducted by Gill(1990 ) shows how people’s perceptions and attitudes towards negative thoughts were found to be predominately negative. Therefore, it would suggest that negative thoughts are viewed as an unacceptable behaviour. However, Troufman(2007)looks at how negative thoughts can also be viewed as a healthy, due to individuals viewing the negative material as a stepping stone to improve their lifestyles, which according to Epstein(1993) is the process known as emotional intelligence, the ability to learn directly from your mistakes. More over, this information indicates and emphasises the ability to perceive something in a positive light.

Additionally, in line with previous research, it is evident that there is need for further investigation of the thought control questionnaire Reynolds and wells (1999) ,when assessing the techniques used to combat negative intrusive thoughts. Implication of the TCQ, is that it has previously been used on non-clinical participants that suffer from depression and schizophrenia Reynolds, (1999). However, research investigating the TCQ and the questionnaires intentions to measure these thoughts on non-clinical participants is limited Freeman et al(2005). Therefore ,the model of TCQ seemed most appropriate when investigating which strategy of thinking was more successful in regards to frequency of the thought, as it addresses five sub categories, which have been specifically associated with negative attitudes. In addition, numerous studies have found the TCQ questionnaire is reliably measured. Furthermore, coefficients were tested to make sure the scale was satisfactory, the results showed good use of material and were acceptable for measuring negative thoughts. Concurrent validity was problematic , due to the limitation that it is impossible to find any other method of controlling another individuals thoughts.

The Present study set out to examine the utility of the success of adopting a specific style of thinking when measuring frequency of a negative intrusive thought, when using the Thought control questionnaire to retrieve data. The questionnaire consisted of five sub categories: social, reappraisal, worry, punishment, and distraction. These questions were then compared to other factors: the frequency of experiencing a negative thought and whether the participant would consider themselves as having a high or low level of self-esteem. Self-esteem was chosen due to the consistent research illustrating its affect on people’s views of oneself. Hagga Dyke and Ernst(1991) despite this analysis ,the results found that self-esteem was not an underlining factor as results showed an insignificant outcome, suggesting that more attention needs to put in place to analyse the relationship between self-esteem and depression.

The hypothesis stated that there would be a cause and effect relationship between worrying behaviour and frequency of a negative thought. Rood (2009.) moreover, the model of the Thought Control Questionnaire was found predictive of worry, when an individual suffers from worrying behaviour they tend to focus more on negative stimuli. More specifically a large number of journals have also offered to support to the idea that worry is considered as being a high predictor of depression. Thus supporting previous research carried out by Rood(2009) who found that specifically worry rumination is a high predictor of anxious and depressive behaviour. Consequently, if procedures are used to reduce the attribute worry, then this may led to a decline in the number of depressive patients. In the research created by Hershc&Hayes(2010) who examined the bias attention in worry, found that the adjustment of attentional bias can reduce such symptoms. However, despite worry being a significant predictor of negative behaviour , the research that has been addressed have not discussed other external influences, for example Sarason(1984) looked into worrying behaviour when accompanied with stress. Findings suggested that there was an increase in interference; this research however, is out of date in accordance with other findings. Further investigation is needed. Despite the limitations discussed, it is important to state that the findings are in line with the hypothesis and therefore is relevant when applying the research to negativity in young adolescents.

The present study, found that social control did not have any impact on frequency of negative emotions. This therefore, suggests that more enquiry is needed ,due to the findings not coinciding with other literature analysed, for example literature created by Oakun and Lockwood(2003) found that there was an association between social negativity and social support. however , further examination into the concept of social influences suggests that every relationship is different for example Rook(1984) highlights that social exchanges create positive and negative effects , suggesting that depending on what kind of relationship you have leads to either a positive or negative outcome. Specifically, research demonstrated that men and women’s relationships are predominantly different Turner,Gervai and Hinde (1993) suggesting that it is hard to generalise and measure how people interact with their peers as pointed out by Hinder(1997) that friendship is very hard to identify and cannot be defined by its content.

In addition, when looking at social control, it is clear that one would feel that social relationships do not reduce their frequency of negative thoughts. This suggests there are other factors that influence control over negativity, such as reappraisal techniques (Gross, 1998). If we viewed our thoughts as fabrication in which we questioned how accurate and valid it was to the situation it could influence others to view the act more objectively and may led to less adverse effects. Therefore, this study raises scope for future research, into the influence of others, perhaps because one’s peers agree with such behaviour the feel it is okay to do so.

The six-quantitive questions for reappraisal were put in place to access the impact that reappraisal had on combating a negative thought. The closed question uncovered factors as to whether the individual assessed the thoughts validity, it was evident that a majority of participants felt that they did assess their thoughts regularly however, the technique was shown to be insignificant when analysed, indicating that its relevance to negativity may need further investigation. Furthermore, it is also important to discuss how negative thoughts can be intrusive. Therefore, suggesting that thoughts can only be manipulated when the mind has trained itself to identify these thoughts (l kats,1997.) Therefore, it could be suggested that the technique reappraisal should be measured over a specific time period, as it is clear that automatic responses do not tend to change quickly, the process tends to be lengthy due to other external influences such as dealing with past issues and memory associations Hutchinson(1996.)

Additionally, the results from the closed ended questions are not consistent with the present findings because most of the participants had still reported to have experienced a negative thought despite using the reappraisal technique. Therefore, it is hard to generalise based on the results concluded. This could be due to other factors such as Self-report bias, which could be present, as the participants will only tell the experimenter what she, or he wants them to know. Therefore, open ended questions may be more appropriate as they possibly less daunting to the participant and therefore it would give the participants an opportunity to discuss anything they feel hasn’t been covered in the questionnaire, this idea might be worth considering when reviewing the present research .

Moreover, it is also evident that the study involves a sensitive subject; therefore, people might not give completely honest answers. This suggests that perhaps the participants felt that they did not want to divulge any information that would require them to discuss distressing information. Research by Stroud(2010:2) suggests that negative material may lead to adverse effects .Therefore, are more aware of the consequences associated with negative thinking. As a result, disclosing any information that would associate them with negative behaviour could make the results unreliable.

The Questionnaire also looked at punishing behaviour, the research conducted by () went on to discuss the variable punishment, in that punishment had an effect on the frequency of thought. However, results in the present study were inconclusive, as they showed no significance. This does not correlate with previous research, as the Thought control questionnaire has been reported as a valid scale when conducting research regarding negative thought intrusion ( .)Perhaps the questionnaire investigating the effect of punishment on levels of negativity was unreliable in the student population, as the analysed data found did not meet the parametric assumptions, this therefore suggests that the questionnaire lacks validity, when measuring whether punishment is an underlining factor within negative processors. However, the questionnaire did show good content. More investigation is needed, to reconsider the questionnaires structure in regards to measuring the student population.

The closed questioned used, measured self esteem, this was to access whether self-esteem issues were related to negativity. However, the questions were based of self-report measure.

It is evident that self-esteem is an influential factor upon behaviour. Hagga,Dyke and Ernist(1991) research suggests that it is . However, stereotypes tend to incriminate young individuals and these can influence people’s preconceived expectations of how younger generations will behave. It could be argued that this in turn will reinforce these behaviours in such individuals and subconsciously some people may behave in a way that supports this stereotype. Perhaps, accessing the variable stereotypes would be an area, which can be further investigated within this domain .As the present study has only touched on this variable briefly.

The questionnaire used a structured format, handout and face-to-face interaction was used as a method of data collection, due to low interest in the participation scheme fewer participants were used within the research, which led to less reliable results, follow up queries and incentives could have been put in place to increase interest. However, the questions were simply structured and were easy to follow yet they did touch on insensitive issues regarding negative behaviour, which may have affected the individual’s response for example they may have answered the questions untruthfully, yet it was clear to participants that the research would touch on sensitive issues ,before the study was conducted.

This study presents important implications for future prevention campaigns as statistics show that there is an increase in individuals taking anti depressants in 2010 due to money related issues, resulting in more negative behaviour.(The times). The results found here would suggest that future campaigns should focus on prevention of becoming a worrier ,specifically for young people that need to be targeted in order to change these behaviours.

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