Attributions and perceptions of criticism: An examination of patients with anxiety and normal control participants.

Perceived criticism from relatives predicts poor clinical outcomes for patients with a variety of psychological disorders. Research indicates the attributions individuals make about motives for relatives’ criticism are linked to perceived criticism from this relative. Accordingly, attributions may be an important target of intervention to reduce perceived criticism and improve clinical outcomes, but this association requires testing in a clinical sample. We examined relationships among attributions of criticism, perceived criticism, and upset due to criticism among individuals with anxiety disorders (n = 53) and with no psychopathology (n = 52). Participants completed measures of global attributions, perceived criticism, and upset due to criticism regarding criticism from a romantic partner/spouse or parent. After a 10-min problem-solving interaction with their relative, they completed measures of attributions, perceived criticism, and upset with regard to this relative’s critical behavior during the interaction, and observers reliably coded interactions for relatives’ criticism. Results showed that negative attributions were related to greater perceived criticism and upset for both global and interaction-specific measures. In analyses of interaction-specific measures, negative attributions added to prediction of perceived criticism and upset over and above the contribution of observed criticism. Positive attributions were not significantly related to global or interaction-specific upset in any analyses. Relationships were consistent across patients and normal controls. Our findings suggest that negative attributions of relatives’ motives for their criticism are important predictors of perceived criticism and upset. Thus, interventions targeting these attributions may be helpful in mitigating the negative effect of perceived criticism for individuals with psychopathology. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)