Get access

Associations Between Hypochondriacal Symptoms and Illness Appraisals, and Their Moderation by Self-Focused Attention


Stephen L. Brown, School of Dental Sciences, Pembroke Place, Liverpool L3 5PS UK. E-mail:


Hypochondriacal symptoms are associated with cognitive biases in the ways that illness is appraised. Self-focused attention (SFA) may augment or reduce these biases. Using a healthy sample, this study examined relationships between hypochondriacal symptoms, assessed using the Illness Attitudes Scale; and illness appraisals, assessed using the Illness Perception Questionnaire–Revised. Participants were exposed to an SFA manipulation or a non-SFA control, were given a health message about influenza, and were asked to imagine having the disease. Hypochondriacal symptoms were linked to higher symptom perceptions, greater perceptions of personal and treatment control, and higher disease coherence. SFA augmented the relationship between hypochondriacal symptoms and personal control. Findings are discussed in terms of illness appraisal biases and attentional components of these biases.

Get access to the full text of this article