The Roles of Parenting and Moral Socialization in Obsessive-Compulsive Belief and Symptom Development
Despite the prominence of cognitive theories of anxiety disorders, which posit that thoughts can affect the expression of psychopathology, empirical investigation of the origins of such thoughts is scant. In the study of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), a number of cognitive factors, deemed obsessive beliefs, have been identified as correlates of the disorder. Although both parenting behaviors and obsessive beliefs have demonstrated associations with obsessive-compulsive symptoms, research exploring the relations between all three of these constructs has been heretofore limited. Moreover, given the moral content of some obsessions and compulsions (e.g. praying, harm prevention techniques), it is possible that specific moral socialization techniques serve to promote obsessive beliefs. This study investigated parenting, obsessive beliefs, moral socialization and obsessive-compulsive symptoms in a large non-clinical sample (N=288). Thirty-four students who were measured as relatively high or low on obsessive beliefs subsequently completed an additional procedure in which they were interviewed about moral socialization. Results provided support for a model in which obsessive beliefs served as a mediator of the relations between parenting behaviors and symptom levels. Adding self-conscious emotions to the model as a covariate significantly improved overall fit statistics. With respect to moral socialization, few differences emerged in the moral socialization histories of individuals relatively high or low on obsessive beliefs. However, those in the high obsessive beliefs group were more likely to report relationship-centered discipline (i.e. the parent using damage to the parent-child relationship as a vehicle for punishment) than those in the low obsessive beliefs group.
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