The Reliability and Validity of a Measure of Chronic Self-Focus

Document Type

Grant Proposal

Date Accepted

Summer 2007

Project Description/Abstract

The research described below has been designed to investigate the chronic self-focus implicated in Baumeister’s (1989, 1991a, 199b, 1997) theory of escape-style coping, a narrowed focus on a smaller and meaningless portion of the self (such as a physical sensation), to avoid thoughts of the abstract and meaningful aspects of self (such as social evaluation or goal attainment). The theory has been used as an explanation for binge eating behaviors (Heatherton & Baumeister, 1991; Heatherton, Polivy, Herman & Baumeister, 1993), alcohol abuse (Hull & Young, 1983a) and other avoidance coping techniques (Ingledew, Hardy, Cooper, & Jemal, 1996; Ingledew & McDonagh, 1998). The escape theory may indeed offer a unique contribution to examining compulsive or addictive behavior and it is often cited in the literature. However, there has been little attempt to test its fit in this area. There has not been sufficient research to determine whether a tendency toward self-focused attention is a measurable disposition (Ingram, 1990) and the coping and addiction literature would benefit from a measure of the tendency toward chronic self-focus (Pyszczynski, Greenberg, Hamilton, & Nix, 1991). In a series of studies initiated in 1999, I have constructed a preliminary version of a self-focus scale, and established its reliability and validity. With a summer grant, I would be able to expand upon my seven years of research in this area by testing the scale with a clinical sample and establish clinical cut-off scores for diagnosis and treatment. This work would contribute significantly not only to my overall research goals, but to the field, as this research has the potential to advance the understanding and treatment of damaging compulsive and addictive behaviors such as binge eating, alcohol abuse, and other addictive behaviors.

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