Faculty Articles

Cognitive Distortions and Adolescent Affective Disorder Validity of the CNCEQ in an Inpatient Sample

Stephen C. Messer, Nova Southeastern University
T. Kempton
V. B. Van Hasselt
J. A. Null, Nova Southeastern University
O. G. Bukstein


Despite a proliferation of recent research examining childhood and adolescent depression, the area still lags behind the adult depression field, particularly in the investigation of cognitive correlates of affective psychopathology. To advance cognitive research with youth, the Children's Negative Cognitive Error Questionnaire (CNCEQ) was developed to provide a measure of cognitive distortions or errors in children and adolescents. Yet, few studies have employed the CNCEQ and no evidence exists supporting the validity of its four component cognitive error scales. The purpose of the present study was to examine the construct validity of the CNCEQ and its constituent scales through the use of factor analysis and criterion-group comparisons. Groups of adolescent psychiatric inpatients, diagnosed as affective or disruptive disordered, completed the CNCEQ following admission. Results failed to support the implicit four-factor structure of the CNCEQ, instead suggesting the appropriateness of a single-factor solution labeled "negative thinking." Despite no diagnostic group differences on the CNCEQ total or other scale scores, affective disordered patients evinced more cognitive errors on the Overgeneralizing scale. Findings suggest that the CNCEQ in its current stage of development holds promise, yet requires refinement to produce a valid measure of cognitive functioning in youth.