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Decentering is defined as the ability to observe one's thoughts and feelings as temporary, objective events in the mind, as opposed to reflections of the self that are necessarily true. The Experiences Questionnaire (EQ) was designed to measure both decentering and rumination but has not been empirically validated. The current study investigated the factor structure of the EQ in both undergraduate and clinical populations. A single, unifactorial decentering construct emerged using 2 undergraduate samples. The convergent and discriminant validity of this decentering factor was demonstrated in negative relationships with measures of depression symptoms, depressive rumination, experiential avoidance, and emotion regulation. Finally, the factor structure of the EQ was replicated in a clinical sample of individuals in remission from depression, and the decentering factor evidenced a negative relationship to concurrent levels of depression symptoms. Findings from this series of studies offer initial support for the EQ as a measure of decentering.
Z. V. Segal et al. (2006) demonstrated that depressed patients treated to remission through either antidepressant medication (ADM) or cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), but who evidenced mood-linked increases in dysfunctional thinking, showed elevated rates of relapse over 18 months. The current study sought to evaluate whether treatment response was associated with gains in decentering-the ability to observe one's thoughts and feelings as temporary, objective events in the mind-and whether these gains moderated the relationship between mood-linked cognitive reactivity and relapse of major depression. Findings revealed that CBT responders exhibited significantly greater gains in decentering compared with ADM responders. In addition, high post acute treatment levels of decentering and low cognitive reactivity were associated with the lowest rates of relapse in the 18-month follow-up period.