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Unread January 24th, 2005, 11:01 PM
James Pretzer James Pretzer is offline
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Join Date: Jun 2004
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Default Is the CT model "thoughts cause feelings"?

I have an update! Dr. Beck and I are currently updating his chapter on CT's approach to stress and stress management for the third edition of Lehrer & Woolfolk's book on stress management. This morning I updated the discussion of the relationships between cognition, emotion, and behavior. The model Beck advocates is basically:
  1. An event happens.
  2. Schemas shape perception and appraisal of the event.
  3. The "primary appraisal" is very quick (before the stimulus is fully perceived), automatic, very simple (i.e. good/bad, dangerous/not dangerous, etc.), and occurs outside of awareness.
  4. The primary appraisal elicits both the initial behavioral inclinations (fight or flight...) and the initial emotional responses. Behavioral inclinations and emotional responses are seen as being independent of each other but as being correlated because they are both elicited by the same appraisals.
  5. Secondary appraisals automatically follow the primary appraisal and provide a somewhat more sophisticated assessment of the risk or gain that the situation presents and of the individual's ability to cope with the situation. This is still a simple, quick appraisal that occurs automatically and is likely to occur outside of awareness.
  6. The secondary appraisals fine-tune or modify the initial behavioral and emotional response to the situation.
  7. The initial appraisals and resultant behavioral and emotional responses influence how the situation unfolds. In other words, the initial behavioral response (i.e.fight or flight or freezing) makes a big difference in what actually occurs and the initial emotional response makes a big difference in how subsequent events are appraised (if I'm scared I'm more likely to interpret whatever happens as a threat, if I'm angry I'm more likely to interpret it as a provocation.
  8. Subsequent thought can modify or reinforce the initial appraisals, inhibit or facilitate the behavioral inclinations, and/or lead the individual to suppress or express the emotional responses. Dysfunctional beliefs, cognitive distortions, etc. contribute to dysfunctional responses.
  9. This is not a static process with a beginning and an end. We are constantly and automatically appraising events (both external and internal) as they occur whether or not we are aware of the appraisals and their effects. Our behavioral and emotional responses to prior appraisals influence subsequenct appraisals.

Clearly this is a little more complex than "thoughts cause feelings." Note that reflective, verbally-mediated thoughts of which the individual is aware come into the picture relatively late in the chain of cognitive processes.
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