OSR Journal of Student Research

Article Title

The Relationship between Early Maladaptive Schemas and Depression: The Mediational Role of Psychological Inflexibility


Cognitive models of psychopathology have become ubiquitous in the clinical literature and have led to the proliferation of cognitive therapies for numerous psychological disorders. A more recent model, the Schema Model (Young, et al., 2004) proposes that negative early developmental experiences (e.g., dysfunctional parenting, abuse, trauma) leads to the development of Early Maladaptive Schemas (EMS) which serve as a cognitive vulnerability mechanism through which future life experiences are viewed negatively. Although the relationship between EMS and depression has received much attention in the literature, less is known about the potential mechanisms for this relationship. In the current study, we proposed a model in which the relationship between EMS and depression is indirect and mediated by psychological inflexibility (i.e., low acceptance, low commitment and cognitive fusion). Participants consisted of undergraduate students who completed the Schema Questionnaire (SQ-SF3; Young, 2003); Acceptance and Action Questionnaire-II (AAQ; Bond, et al., 2011); Committed Action Questionnaire (CAQ-8; McCracken et al, 2014), Cognitive Fusion Questionnaire (CFQ; Mahony, 2016) and the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale (CESD; Radlof, 1977). Results revealed that EMS and depression symptoms are related (r = .57, p < .001) and results of parallel mediation analyses using PROCESS (Hayes, 2008) revealed that EMS—depression model (R2 = .65; F (4, 135) = 63.05, p < .001) was mediated by psychological inflexibility [95% CI: LL = .05, UL = .18] and cognitive fusion [95% CI: LL = .04, UL = .12]. Implications for future research and psychotherapeutic interventions will be discussed.

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