Towards a comprehensive understanding of Perceived Criticism and its predictive validity: Three studies investigating the correlates and consequences of PC
AbstractPerceived criticism (PC) is a robust predictor of poor clinical outcomes for a range of mental disorders, and it predicts these outcomes better than objective measures of criticism. Though PC has the potential to be a valuable clinical tool, little is known about why PC predicts relapse, or other unfavorable transdiagnostic outcomes. The present dissertation begins to address this question by investigating the informational content of PC. Specifically, a series of studies examines the extent to which PC provides information about relationship experiences as opposed to traits or characteristics of the perceiver. In paper 1, we find evidence that PC provides both types of information; specifically, we find that people perceive similar levels of criticism across a number of important relationships. Furthermore, PC in one relationship predicts PC in other relationships just as strongly as relationship-specific characteristics, such as relationship satisfaction. In paper 2, we investigate whether global PC ratings are related to well-being because they index daily experiences of criticism exposure. We find that global PC is only modestly related to daily criticism and that global PC incrementally predicts daily feelings of social support and connectedness after controlling for depression, relationship satisfaction, and daily perceptions of criticism. These findings suggest that PC may predict some aspects of well-being due to shared variance with depressive symptomatology, and also that PC itself may be a unique indicator for the ways people experience and evaluate their social worlds each day. In paper 3, we test the hypothesis that people reporting high PC would demonstrate enhanced recall for negative information when it is processed self-referentially. This hypothesis was not supported, suggesting that PC cannot be dismissed merely as a negative bias in the way a person recalls information about the relationship. Together, these studies provide a unique perspective on the meaning of the PC construct. These studies indicate that, to a significant extent, PC reflects clinically-relevant processes and characteristics at the level of the individual. These processes may be primarily related to ways of perceiving and interpreting social experiences. Thus, potential interventions for PC must incorporate both individual and family components.
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