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Talking About Real‐life Events: An Investigation Into the Ability of People with Intellectual Disabilities to Make Links Between Their Beliefs and Emotions Within Dialogue

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Background  This study compares how people with and without intellectual disabilities talk about events, beliefs and emotions in dialogues about real‐life, emotive events and in a structured task assessing understanding of cognitive mediation.

Materials and Methods  A cognitive‐emotive interview was used to assist 19 adults with intellectual disabilities and 19 adults without disabilities in generating an account of an emotive, interpersonal event. Participants also completed a cognitive mediation task and an assessment of intellectual and verbal ability.

Results  Between‐group analyses indicated that participants with intellectual disabilities scored significantly lower than those without disabilities on the cognitive‐emotive interview and the cognitive mediation task. Participants with intellectual disabilities generated fewer beliefs within their dialogues and were less likely to provide alternative perspectives on events. Within‐group comparisons showed no significant association between the ability to talk about events, beliefs and emotions within a dialogue and performance on a cognitive mediation task, or with Full Scale or Verbal IQ scores.

Conclusions  Participants with intellectual disabilities had more difficulties than those without disabilities in talking about events, beliefs and emotions. Within a therapeutic context, they are likely to require assistance to reflect on events and consider alternative interpretations, which take into account individual and environmental factors. Future therapeutic developments may benefit from placing greater emphasis on emotional understanding and the intuitive links that people make between events and emotions.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Section of Psychological Medicine, Division of Community Based Sciences, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, Scotland, UK

Publication date: November 1, 2011

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