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A previous time series study showed that rapidly repeating a single word version of a negative self-referential thought reduced the discomfort and the believability associated with that thought. The present parametric study examined whether durations of word repetition were differentially effective in altering the discomfort and believability of negative self-referential thought. In two studies, both discomfort and believability varied systematically with the duration of word repetition. The effects of rapid repetition on emotional discomfort bottomed out after 3 to 10 seconds of rapid repetition, while the effects on believability did so after 20 to 30 seconds of repetition. This study lends support to the cognitive defusion interpretation of the effect of word repetition, suggesting that emotional discomfort and believability may be distinctive functional aspects of cognitive events.


“NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Behavior Modification. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in

Masuda, A., Hayes, S. C., Twohig, M. P., Drossel C., Lillis, J., & Washio, Y. (2009). A parametric study of cognitive defusion and the believability and discomfort of negative self-relevant thoughts, Behavior Modification, 33, 250-262

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