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Gender Differences in Irrational Beliefs

Kerri M. Bojman, BA, Christopher M. Duggan, BSc, Peter G. Mezo, PhD
Memorial University of Newfoundland, Department of Psychology, St. John’s , NL, Canada

Abstract Results
Maladaptive thought patterns associated with depression are in part All irrational beliefs, with the exception of IBS_B3, were significantly associated with both anxiety and depression (see Table 1). Consistent with previous
maintained by cognitive biases, or irrational beliefs (Beck, 1987). This study findings, beliefs 5, 8, and 10 were found to be the most strongly associated with both anxiety and depression.
examines gender differences in irrational beliefs. 410 undergraduate students
completed the Irrational Beliefs Scale (IBS; Malouff & Schutte, 1986) as part of Table 1. Bivariate correlations between irrational beliefs (IBS), depression (DASS_D) and anxiety (DASS_A).
a larger study. Data analysis revealed that males (M = 59.72, SD = 10.34)
endorsed irrational beliefs significantly less than females (M = 62.92, IBS_B1 IBS_B2 IBS_B3 IBS_B4 IBS_B5 IBS_B6 IBS_B7 IBS_B8 IBS_B9 IBS_B10
SD= 10.02), t (408)= -2.84, p<.01. These findings suggest that female
DASS_A .187** .149** .053 .224** .295** .147** .145** .242** .236** .314**
undergraduate students are at an increased risk for having irrational beliefs
which may predispose them to develop depressive symptoms. DASS_D .195** .151** .111* .228** .329** .125* .191** .268** .221** .380**
*p<.05, **p<.01
Introduction Table 2. Means and Standard Deviations (in
Irrational beliefs are thought to underlie emotional disturbance (Ellis, 1958).
parentheses) of irrational beliefs across gender. An independent sample t-test Discussion
Maladaptive thought patterns maintained by irrational beliefs are associated was used to determine gender
Irrational belief Male Female Results from this study suggest that female undergraduate
with both depression (i.e. McDermut, Haaga, & Bilek, 1997) and anxiety (i.e. differences in irrational beliefs
students are more likely to have increased degrees of irrational
Malouff, Schutte, & McClelland, 1992). IBS_B1 6.486(2.049) 7.256(1.764)** (see Table 2 for Means and SD).
beliefs than males. This may predispose females to have an
Data analysis revealed that
Certain irrational beliefs associated with the Irrational Beliefs Scale (IBS; increased risk for experiencing depressive and anxious
IBS_B2 6.651(1.807) 6.771(1.779) females (M = 62.92, SD = 10.02)
Malouff & Schutte, 1986) have been found to be strongly associated with symptoms. Future research could examine whether these
endorsed irrational beliefs
depression and anxiety; in particular belief 5 (emotions are externally caused) results can be replicated in specific clinical populations
IBS_B3 5.523(1.798) 5.472(1.938) significantly more than males
belief 8 (importance of the past), and belief 10 (discomfort with anxiety) (Mezo diagnosed with affective disorders (obsessive-compulsive
(M = 59.72, SD = 10.34),t(408) =
& Wiseman, submitted for publication). disorder, dysthymia, etc).
IBS_B4 5.587(1.982) 6.030(1.948)* -2.84, p<.01).
Among individuals seeking psychotherapy for depression and anxiety, there Results from this study further support previous research that
IBS_B5 6.294(1.744) 6.897(1.568)** In order to determine which
appears to be a gender bias. Epidemiological studies have consistently irrational belief 5 (emotions are externally caused), irrational
specific beliefs demonstrated
reported greater levels of depression in females than in males (Van de Velde belief 8 (importance of the past), and irrational belief 10
IBS_B6 6.376(1.704) 6.990(1.613)** significant differences across
et al., 2010), and women are more likely than men to request treatment for (discomfort anxiety) play a prominent role in the development of
gender, independent sample t-
symptoms that are linked with depression and anxiety (Watson, Morris, & anxiety and depression. It was demonstrated that females also
IBS_B7 4.110(2.056) 4.013(1.910) tests were conducted across all
Miller, 2001). significantly endorse higher levels of beliefs 5 and 10. Future
ten beliefs. Females endorsed
research should investigate why these two particular beliefs are
IBS_B8 5.917(2.199) 5.987(1.980) significantly higher levels of the
The purpose of the present study was to examine the relationship between potentially more prominent among females.
following irrational beliefs:
irrational beliefs and gender in an undergraduate student sample. It was
predicted that irrational beliefs would be associated with anxiety and IBS_B9 6.917(1.963) 7.143(1.928) The generalizability of this research would increase by using a
depression. In particular, it was predicted that females would endorse more more diverse sample in the future. In particular, having a more
IBS_B10 5.853(1.860) 6.359(1.775)** evenly distributed sample across gender may further our
irrational beliefs than males. It was further investigated whether females would
also endorse higher levels of irrational beliefs for beliefs 5, 8, and 10. understanding of the relationships between gender and irrational
*p<.05, **p<.01
beliefs. Although preliminary, these findings increase our
understanding of gender discrepancies in mood disorders.
B1. The idea that it is a dire necessity for an adult to be loved or approved by almost
Methodology everyone for virtually everything he does. t (408) = -3.73, p<.01
B4. The idea that it is terrible, horrible, and catastrophic when things are not going the
Sample Participants were 410 undergraduate students way one would like them to go. t (408) = -2.02, p<.05 Antony, M. M., Bieling, P. J., Cox, B. J., Enns, M. W., & Swinson, R. P. (1998). Psychometric properties
(aged 18-45, M = 20.1) of the 42-item and 21-item versions of the depression anxiety stress scales in clinical groups and a
26.6% community sample. Psychological Assessment, 10, 176-181.
B5. The idea that human unhappiness is externally caused and that people have little or
Ellis, A. (1958). Rational psychotherapy. Journal of General Psychology, 59, 35-49.
no ability to control their sorrows or rid themselves of their negative feelings.
Measures used: Malouff, J.M., & Schutte, N. S. (1986). Development and validation of a measure of irrational belief.
t (408) = -3.34, p<.01 Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 54, 860-862.
Irrational Beliefs Scale Malouff, J. M., Schutte, N. S., & McClelland, T. (1992). Examination of the relationship between
(IBS; Malouff & Schutte, 1986) B6. The idea that if something is or may be dangerous or fearsome, one should be irrational beliefs and state anxiety. Personality and Individual Differences,13, 451-456.
73.4 terribly occupied with and upset by it. t (408) = -3.35, p<.01 McDurmut, J. F., Haaga, D. A. E., & Bilek, L. A. (1997). Cognitive bias and irrational beliefs in major
The depression and anxiety subscales of the depression and dysphoria. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 21, 459-476.

Males Females Depression Anxiety Stress Scale B10. The idea that maximum human happiness can be achieved by inertia and inaction or Van de Velde, S., Bracke, P., & Levecque, K. (2010). Gender differences in depression in 23 European
countries. Cross-national variation in the gender gap in depression. Social Science & Medicine, 71(2),
(DASS-21; Antony et al., 1998). by passively and uncommittedly “enjoying oneself”. t (408) = -2.52, p<.01 305-313.

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