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J Abnorm Psychol. 2008 May;117(2):334-41. doi: 10.1037/0021-843X.117.2.334.

Illusion of control and behavioral control attempts in obsessive-compulsive disorder.

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Department of Psychology, Tel-Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel.


The present research used the illusion-of-control paradigm to examine the relationships among obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) symptoms, behavioral control attempts, and illusory sense of control. Participants were presented with a preprogrammed sequence of aversive and neutral visual stimuli and were encouraged to attempt to control the sequence with keyboard presses. Participants rated their perceived level of control 3 times during the task. In addition, the authors used the repetitiveness of keyboard presses as a measure of rigid, compulsive-like behavior. In Study 1, this procedure was administered to a sample of 55 students who also completed measures of OCD and depression. In Study 2, the task was administered to 22 participants with OCD and 22 matched participants without OCD. In line with predictions, OCD symptoms were correlated with higher illusory sense of control and with more repetitive behavioral control attempts. The authors discuss the central role of control in OCD and specifically the relationships between need for control and compulsive rituals, which may be conceptualized as means for achieving an illusory sense of control over stressful life events.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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