The Termination of Checking and the Role of Just Right Feelings

A Study of Obsessional Checkers Compared with Anxious and Non-clinical Controls

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Abstract

Background: Repeated checking in OCD can be understood from a cognitive
perspective as the motivated need to achieve certainty about the outcome of a
potentially risky action, leading to the application of Elevated Evidence Requirements (EER) and overuse of subjective criteria. Method: Twenty-four obsessional checkers, 22 anxious controls, and 26 non-clinical controls were interviewed about and rated recent episodes where they felt (a) they needed to check and (b) checked mainly out of habit (i.e. not obsessionally). Results: Both subjective and objective criteria were rated as significantly more important in obsessional checkers than in controls; obsessional checkers also used more criteria overall for the termination of the check, and rated more criteria as “extremely important” than the control groups. The termination of the check was rated as more effortful for obsessional checkers than for the comparison groups. Analysis of the interview data was consistent with the ratings. Feelings of “rightness” were associated with the termination of a check for obsessional checkers but not for controls. Conclusion: Results were consistent with
the proposal that the use of “just right feelings” to terminate checking are related to EER.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)139-155
JournalBehavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy
Volume45
Issue number2
Early online date9 Nov 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2017

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Emotions
Habits
Interviews
Control Groups

Keywords

  • Obsessive compulsive disorder, checking, elevated evidence requirements, stopping criteria

Cite this

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title = "The Termination of Checking and the Role of Just Right Feelings: A Study of Obsessional Checkers Compared with Anxious and Non-clinical Controls",
abstract = "Background: Repeated checking in OCD can be understood from a cognitiveperspective as the motivated need to achieve certainty about the outcome of apotentially risky action, leading to the application of Elevated Evidence Requirements (EER) and overuse of subjective criteria. Method: Twenty-four obsessional checkers, 22 anxious controls, and 26 non-clinical controls were interviewed about and rated recent episodes where they felt (a) they needed to check and (b) checked mainly out of habit (i.e. not obsessionally). Results: Both subjective and objective criteria were rated as significantly more important in obsessional checkers than in controls; obsessional checkers also used more criteria overall for the termination of the check, and rated more criteria as “extremely important” than the control groups. The termination of the check was rated as more effortful for obsessional checkers than for the comparison groups. Analysis of the interview data was consistent with the ratings. Feelings of “rightness” were associated with the termination of a check for obsessional checkers but not for controls. Conclusion: Results were consistent withthe proposal that the use of “just right feelings” to terminate checking are related to EER.",
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AB - Background: Repeated checking in OCD can be understood from a cognitiveperspective as the motivated need to achieve certainty about the outcome of apotentially risky action, leading to the application of Elevated Evidence Requirements (EER) and overuse of subjective criteria. Method: Twenty-four obsessional checkers, 22 anxious controls, and 26 non-clinical controls were interviewed about and rated recent episodes where they felt (a) they needed to check and (b) checked mainly out of habit (i.e. not obsessionally). Results: Both subjective and objective criteria were rated as significantly more important in obsessional checkers than in controls; obsessional checkers also used more criteria overall for the termination of the check, and rated more criteria as “extremely important” than the control groups. The termination of the check was rated as more effortful for obsessional checkers than for the comparison groups. Analysis of the interview data was consistent with the ratings. Feelings of “rightness” were associated with the termination of a check for obsessional checkers but not for controls. Conclusion: Results were consistent withthe proposal that the use of “just right feelings” to terminate checking are related to EER.

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