The effect of thought importance on stress responses: a test of the metacognitive model

Lora Capobianco, Anthony P. Morrison, Adrian Wells

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Negative metacognitive beliefs are central determinants of distress in the metacognitive model of psychological vulnerability to stress. The current study tested this assertion in 75 undergraduate students assigned to either experimental (metacognitive belief manipulation) or control (no metacognitive belief manipulation) condition. All participants underwent a fake EEG, where they were told that the EEG would detect negative thoughts. The experimental subjects were informed that if they had a negative thought they may be exposed to a contingent burst of loud noise, while the control condition was told that they may be exposed to a burst of loud noise at random. Participants also underwent the Trier Social Stress Test. The results showed that on physiological measures (skin conductance level) there were no significant differences between groups. However, on self-report measures (positive and negative affect) participants in the experimental condition reported greater levels of negative affect and lower levels of positive affect in response to stress and maintained low positive affect at recovery. The results are consistent with the metacognitive model and suggest that metacognitive beliefs impact on positive and negative affect in reaction to and recovery from stress exposure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
Early online date19 Dec 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • experiment
  • Metacognition
  • metacognitive theory
  • negative metacognitive belief
  • stress
  • trier social stress test


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