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Research indicates that people suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) possess several cognitive biases, including a tendency to over-estimate threat and avoid risk. Studies have suggested that people with OCD not only over-estimate the severity of negative events, but also under-estimate their ability to cope with such occurrences. What is less clear is if they also miscalculate the extent to which they will be emotionally impacted by a given experience.
The aim of the current study was twofold. First, we examined if people with OCD are especially poor at predicting their emotional responses to future events (i.e. affective forecasting). Second, we analysed the relationship between affective forecasting accuracy and risk assessment across a broad domain of behaviours.
Forty-one OCD, 42 non-anxious, and 40 socially anxious subjects completed an affective forecasting task and a self-report measure of risk-taking.
Findings revealed that affective forecasting accuracy did not differ among the groups. In addition, there was little evidence that affective forecasting errors are related to how people assess risk in a variety of situations.
The results of our study suggest that affective forecasting is unlikely to contribute to the phenomenology of OCD or social anxiety disorder. However, that people over-estimate the hedonic impact of negative events might have interesting implications for the treatment of OCD and other disorders treated with exposure therapy.
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