Boelen, P. A., & Reijntjes, A. (2009). Negative cognitions in emotional problems following romantic relationship break-ups . Stress and Health, 25, 11-19.


This study examined the role of negative cognitions in emotional problems following relationship dissolution. Seventy-nine undergraduate students who experienced relationship break-up completed measures of break-up related complicated grief, depression, and anxiety, together with an adjusted version of the Grief Cognitions Questionnaire (GCQ) that assesses four types of global negative beliefs, negative cognitions about self-blame and the responses of others, and three types of negative interpretations of one's own grief reactions. Results showed that all cognitive variables tapped by the GCQ were significantly associated with complicated grief, and — except for global beliefs about life — with depression and anxiety. Most of these associations remained significant when controlling for the influence of initiator status, variables linked with the ended relationship (e.g., duration) and personality factors (e.g., attachment anxiety, neuroticism). Catastrophic misinterpretations about one's own reactions, global negative beliefs about the self, and cognitions reflecting self-blame were the strongest cognitive correlates of break-up related emotional problems. Overall, the findings are in keeping with cognitive models of trauma and loss and suggest that changing negative cognitions could be a useful intervention for those who fail to recover from relationship break-up.