Positive thoughts versus states of mind ratio as a stress moderator: Findings across four studies


Using two measures of positive automatic thoughts (PATs) and other archival data from four previous studies, the author compared the ability of PATs and States of Mind (SOM) ratio to moderate the relationship between negative events and dysphoria both cross sectionally and longitudinally. In three o f four cross-sectional analyses but in none of three longitudinal analyses, PATs moderated the negative event-dysphoria relationship. For more frequent PATs, negative events were less related to dysphoria. In one of four cross-sectional analyses and one of three longitudinal an analyses, SOM ratio moderated the negative event-dysphoria relationship such that, for higher SOM ratio, negative events were less predictive of dysphoria. Results were similar whether PATs were measured with the Automatic Thoughts Questionnaire- Positive or the Automatic Thoughts Questionnaire-Revised in studies 1-3 but differed across these instruments in some analyses in study 4. It is argued that, as cognitive products, state cognitions and SOM ratio may be unlikely to moderate stress effects consistently in longitudinal studies. It is recommended that, in studies of dysphoria and depression, researchers investigate (1) cognitions x cognitive structure interactions and (2) domain- specific belief x life event interactions.

Publication Title

Cognitive Therapy and Research