• Cognitive models;
  • inflated responsibility;
  • obsessive-compulsive disorder;
  • perfectionism;
  • thought–action fusion

Background:  A number of cognitive appraisals have been identified as important in the manifestation of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) in adults. There have, however, been few attempts to explore these cognitive appraisals in clinical groups of young people.

Method:  This study compared young people aged between 11 and 18 years with OCD (N = 28), young people with other types of anxiety disorders (N = 28) and a non-clinical group (N = 62) on three questionnaire measures of cognitive appraisals. These were inflated responsibility (Responsibility Attitude Scale; Salkovskis et al., 2000), thought–action fusion – likelihood other (Thought–Action Fusion Scale; Shafran, Thordarson & Rachman, 1996) and perfectionism (Multidimensional Perfectionism Scale; Frost, Marten, Luhart & Rosenblate, 1990).

Results:  The young people with OCD had significantly higher scores on inflated responsibility, thought–action fusion – (likelihood other), and one aspect of perfectionism, concern over mistakes, than the other groups. In addition, inflated responsibility independently predicted OCD symptom severity.

Conclusions:  The results generally support a downward extension of the cognitive appraisals held by adults with OCD to young people with the disorder. Some of the results, however, raise issues about potential developmental shifts in cognitive appraisals. The findings are discussed in relation to implications for the cognitive model of OCD and cognitive behavioural therapy for young people with OCD.