Inventory of Cognitive Distortions: Validation of a Measure of Cognitive Distortions Using a Community Sample

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis


The purpose of this study was to examine and evaluate further the psychometric properties of a self-report inventory of cognitive distortions using a nonclinical, community sample. A group of 474 individuals were contacted via the social networking site, Facebook, and through a college list-serve and were asked to complete multiple measures and also to send the link to other individuals, thus utilizing a snowball sample. The measures used included the Inventory of Cognitive Distortions (ICD), Dysfunctional Attitude Scale (DAS), Perceived Stress Scale (PSS), and a brief questionnaire to collect demographic information on each participant. Results revealed positive psychometric properties for the Inventory of Cognitive Distortions and were generally consistent with findings from the initial study, which utilized a clinical sample in order to examine the factor structure. Internal consistency reliability analysis of the total scale was found to be strong with a Coefficient Alpha of .97, which is consistent with the previous study (alpha = .98). Factor analysis revealed 12 factors, eight of which closely resemble factors from the original study. The eight common factors included, Magnification, Fortune-Telling, Externalization of Self-Worth, Perfectionism, Emotional Reasoning, Minimization, Comparison to Others and Emotional Reasoning and Decision Making. Four new factors were identified, including Discounting the Positive and Personalization, Absolutistic or Dichotomous Thinking, Should Statements, and Catastrophizing. The ICD correlated significantly with both the DAS (p < .001) and PSS (p < .001) measures. The current study also examined differences in overall levels of cognitive distortions as measured by the ICD across three demographic variables, gender, age, and level of education. Females were found to endorse significantly higher levels of cognitive distortions than COGNITIVE DISTORTIONS vii males (p = .006); however, the effect size was relatively small (d = -0.30). Participants who were within 18-29 years of age indicated significantly higher levels of cognitive distortions than individuals 41-85 years of age (p < .001, η2 = 0.35 – large effect size), and there was generally a gradual decrease in cognitive distortions across the age ranges. Level of cognitive distortions was not influenced by level of education (p = .68). Last, participants’ levels of cognitive distortions were able to predict, significantly, levels of perceived stress (p < .001). Future research should include continued testing of the ICD with a larger clinical population, include the ability to assess changes in cognitive distortions over time during treatment, and examine the overall utility of the ICD to the practicing clinician.

Original languageAmerican English
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015

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