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Monday, March 25, 2013

Maladaptive Social Self-Beliefs in Alcohol-Dependence: A Specific Bias towards Excessive High Standards

Emotional and interpersonal impairments associated with alcohol-dependence have been recently explored, but the distorted cognitive representations underlying these deficits remain poorly understood. The present study aims at exploring the presence of maladaptive social self-beliefs among alcohol-dependent individuals, as these biased self-beliefs have been recently shown to play a crucial role in the development and maintenance of other psychopathological states (social anxiety and depression).

Twenty-five recently detoxified alcohol-dependent participants and 25 matched controls filled in self-report questionnaires evaluating maladaptive social self-beliefs, interpersonal problems and several comorbid states (anxiety, social anxiety, depression). As compared to controls, alcohol-dependent individuals showed higher scores than controls for the three subcategories of maladaptive social self-beliefs (high standards, conditional beliefs and unconditional beliefs). Our key finding was that when comorbidities were controlled for, alcohol-dependence was associated with a specific bias towards exaggerated high standards in social contexts. Moreover, these high standards beliefs were strongly correlated with interpersonal problems.

These results provide the first insights into the influence of cognitive biases on interpersonal problems in addictive states, and suggest that maladaptive self-beliefs could have a central influence on the development and maintenance of alcohol-dependence.

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