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Evaluation of the Automatic Thoughts Questionnaire

Evaluation of the Automatic Thoughts Questionnaire

Abstract

The Automatic Thoughts Questionnaire (ATQ) assesses negative thoughts that are associated with depression among adults. In this study, the scale was extended to children. Internal consistency and validity of the ATQ were evaluated with 250 child psychiatric inpatient children (ages 6 to 13). Validity was evaluated by examining whether depressed and nondepressed children differed on the scale, whether performance was related to other measures of cognitive attributional processes, and whether the measure was more closely related to depression and cognitive processes than to other constructs predicted to be less central to negative thoughts. The ATQ showed high internal consistency and yielded moderate to high item–total score correlations. Convergent validity was supported by the finding that the ATQ correlated positively with severity of depression, hopelessness, and external locus of control and negatively with self-esteem. Discriminant validity was suggested, but not strongly supported, by higher correlations between ATQ and measures of depression and other cognitive processes than between the ATQ and severity of impairment, prosocial behavior, and positive affective experience. The findings in relation to psychometric properties and concurrent validity of the ATQ with children parallel those evident in the study of depression among adults. Further work is needed to examine the relation of the ATQ to other measures of cognitive processes and diagnoses other than depression.
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