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A review of cognitive conflicts research: a meta-analytic study of prevalence and relation to symptoms

Authors Montesano A, López-González MA, Saúl L, Feixas G

Received 6 July 2015

Accepted for publication 1 September 2015

Published 4 December 2015 Volume 2015:11 Pages 2997—3006


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Xiang Mou

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Roger Pinder

Adrián Montesano,1 María Angeles López-González,2 Luis Angel Saúl,2 Guillem Feixas1

1Department of Personality, Assessment and Psychological Treatments, University of Barcelona, Barcelona, 2Department of Personality, Assessment and Psychological Treatments, Faculty of Psychology, National Distance Education University, Madrid, Spain

Abstract: Recent research has highlighted the role of implicative dilemmas in a variety of clinical conditions. These dilemmas are a type of cognitive conflict, in which different aspects of the self are countered in such a way that a desired change in a personal dimension (eg, symptom improvement) may be hindered by the need of personal coherence in another dimension. The aim of this study was to summarize, using a meta-analytical approach, the evidence relating to the presence and the level of this conflict, as well as its relationship with well-being, in various clinical samples. A systematic review using multiple electronic databases found that out of 37 articles assessed for eligibility, nine fulfilled the inclusion criteria for meta-analysis. Random effects model was applied when computing mean effect sizes and testing for heterogeneity level. Statistically significant associations were observed between the clinical status and the presence of dilemmas, as well as level of conflict across several clinical conditions. Likewise, the level of conflict was associated with symptom severity. Results highlighted the clinical relevance and the transdiagnostic nature of implicative dilemmas.

Keywords: implicative dilemmas, cognitive conflicts, intrapersonal conflicts, meta-analysis

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