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Modelling OCD: a test of the inflated responsibility model

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  31 October 2019

Ryan Mitchell*
School of Psychology, The Queen’s University of Belfast, Belfast, BT9 5BN, Northern Ireland
Donncha Hanna
School of Psychology, The Queen’s University of Belfast, Belfast, BT9 5BN, Northern Ireland
Kevin F. W. Dyer
School of Psychology, The Queen’s University of Belfast, Belfast, BT9 5BN, Northern Ireland Psychological Therapies Service, Holywell Hospital, Northern HSC Trust, Antrim, BT41 2RJ, Northern Ireland
*Corresponding author. Email:



The Salkovskis (1999) model of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), which emphasizes the role of inflated responsibility, has proven highly influential in both the understanding and treatment of OCD.


This study aimed to empirically test several core processes of this model.


The individual components of the model were measured using multiple indicators in a sample of undergraduate students (n = 170), and confirmatory factor analyses were used to ascertain the most reliable, valid and theoretically consistent latent variables. Structural equation modelling was used to test proposed relations between latent constructs in the model.


The inflated responsibility model was a good fit for the data in the present sample. As predicted by the model, misinterpretations of intrusive thoughts as indicating personal responsibility fully mediated the relationships between responsibility beliefs and counterproductive safety strategies, neutralizing actions and mood changes.


The Salkovksis (1999) inflated responsibility model of OCD is empirically supported in the present sample of undergraduate students, lending support to the proposed mechanisms in the model and supporting prior evidence.

© British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies 2019

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