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A psychometric and experimental evaluation of schema therapy assessment measures

Stuart, Elizabeth A. (2021) A psychometric and experimental evaluation of schema therapy assessment measures. Masters by Research thesis, Murdoch University.

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Understanding measures designed for use in schema therapy is an important step in the overall research to validate these questionnaires and their clinical application. Schema therapists rely on this data to inform clinical treatment from the first session, however, to date no studies have been published on the relationship between the three predominant schema measures’ (Young Schema Questionnaire – Short 3rd Edition [YSQ-S3], Schema Mode Inventory [SMI] and Young Parenting Inventory - Revised [YPI-R]) and their relationship with other measures of psychopathology. This research aims to understand in more depth the psychometric properties of these measures and to also examine experimentally the emotional sensitivity of all three schema therapy measures to exposure to a mood induction procedure (MIP).

Following several introductory chapters, data from a community sample (N=379) drawn from Perth, Western Australia, were utilised in a first empirical study (Study 1) in which a preliminary analysis was undertaken to ascertain the basic reliability and construct validity of the three schema measures of interest. It was hypothesised that the YSQ-S3 would demonstrate high internal consistency for the 18 schemas, and these predictions were supported by the findings. In an attempt to provide clarity for the scoring methodology used in this and subsequent chapters, Young’s (1999) original scoring of the Young Parenting Inventory (YPI) and Sheffield et al.’s (2005) scoring of the YPI-R were examined, with the YPI-R being slightly favoured for this sample and, therefore, chosen as the parenting inventory of choice for subsequent analyses in the current research. Study 1 also investigated whether predictive relationships exist between parenting patterns, early maladaptive schemas and schema modes. This was further explored to determine which schema scales could predict adult psychopathology on the Symptom Checklist 90 Revised. The Vulnerable Child mode accounted for variance across all scales within the Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scale-21 (DASS-21), with paternal belittling parenting and maternal emotionally inhibited parenting patterns accounting for much of the variance across the early maladaptive schemas and measures of psychopathology. These results suggest that further studies could be undertaken investigating the role that perceived parenting patterns play in the development of schemas, schema modes and psychopathology.

In preparation for the experimental study (Study 2), a small pilot study was conducted with a university student sample (N=9) to determine the music used as a component within the Mood Induction Procedure. This small sample rated music for its effect on their own anger, sadness or lack of any emotion (neutrality); these ratings were used to determine the music to be played for the entire duration of the retest session in Study 2. It was found that music tended to be clustered by genre for mood (e.g., heavy/death metal for anger; minor key, slow tempo, classical music for sadness; and lyric-less dance/electronica music for inducing no discrete emotion/neutrality).

The music rated in the pilot study was a key component for the MIP used as the experimental component of Study 2 (N=80), which utilised a test–retest design to determine whether any of the schema measures (or subscales) were sensitive to contemporaneous emotional interference via a mood manipulation during retest. It was hypothesised on theoretical grounds that the early maladaptive schemas should remain stable but the study’s findings did not support this. All three schema measures—YSQ-S3, SMI and YPI-R—were susceptible to mood induction suggesting a pattern of emotional responding. This raises further questions about both the psychometric features of the measures and their construct validity in terms of the role of schemas and schema modes. Given that schemas are theorised to be lifelong and ego-syntonic, and currently measures of such constructs are assumed to be able to retrospectively measure such early schema, an experimental demonstration of the susceptibility of these measures to current mood raises questions about such claims. Thus this thesis contributes to the study of the psychometrics of the schema measures and our understanding of the role that state-based emotion plays in the self-reported expression of schema, parenting patterns and schema modes.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters by Research)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Psychology, Counselling, Exercise Science and Chiropractic
Supervisor(s): Lewis, Andrew, Campitelli, Guillermo and Heritage, Brody
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