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01-02-2011 | Original Article | Uitgave 1/2011 Open Access

Cognitive Therapy and Research 1/2011

Distorted Cognitive Processing in Youth: The Structure of Negative Cognitive Errors and Their Associations with Anxiety

Cognitive Therapy and Research > Uitgave 1/2011
Marija Maric, David A. Heyne, Brigit M. van Widenfelt, P. Michiel Westenberg


The Children’s Negative Cognitive Error Questionnaire (CNCEQ) is commonly used to measure four errors in young people’s thinking, but research has failed to support the factorial validity of the measure. The primary objective of the present study was to examine the factor structure of a refined and extended version of the CNCEQ. Revision of the CNCEQ involved the exclusion of items rated as contaminated, and the addition of items measuring cognitive errors closely associated with anxiety (‘threat conclusion’ and ‘underestimation of the ability to cope’). A secondary objective was to determine the relation between the negative cognitive errors and anxiety. Principal component analysis of data from 481 children and adolescents indicated five distinct negative cognitive error subscales labeled ‘underestimation of the ability to cope’, ‘personalizing without mind reading’, ‘selective abstraction’, ‘overgeneralizing’, and ‘mind reading’ which contained the new ‘threat conclusion’ items. Confirmatory factor analysis in an independent sample of 295 children and adolescents yielded further support for the five-factor solution. All cognitive errors except ‘selective abstraction’ were correlated with anxiety. Multiple regression analysis indicated that the strongest predictors of anxiety were the two subscales containing new items, namely ‘underestimation of the ability to cope’ and ‘mind reading’. The results are discussed with respect to further development of the instrument so as to advance the assessment of distorted cognitive processing in young people with internalizing symptoms.

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