Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)



First Advisor

Raymond DiGiuseppe

Second Advisor

Mark Terjesen

Third Advisor

Allison Jaeger


Understanding the role of positive and negative cognitions in psycho-emotional adjustment is essential to improve the effectiveness of CBT practice. Schwartz and Garamoni (1986; 1987) proposed a model for the dynamic relationship of negative and positive cognitions based on the golden-section hypothesis or the optimal balance: The States-Of-Mind Model (SOM). The model proposes an asymmetrical balance of positive and negative cognitions represented numerically by the golden-section ratio of .62 positive to .38 negative cognitions [positive cognitions / (positive + negative cognitions)]. To date, the SOM model has mainly been assessed with measures of automatic thoughts or self-statement, which represent more surface structure cognitions that are close to a person’s emotional experience (DiGiuseppe, David, & Venezia, 2016). The model has not been used with more enduring trait like cognitive measures such as dysfunctional attitudes, irrational beliefs, or schema. The current study tested the validity of the States-of-Mind model (SOM) with irrational and rational beliefs of Ellis’ Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT: Ellis 1994).

This study tested the SOM ratios using REBT framework by analyzing survey data from 221 participants on their self-reports of Rational and Irrational Beliefs (RBs/IBs), psychopathology and life satisfaction. Past research on the SOM has supported the presence of psychopathology in individuals whose ratios are lower than the optimal golden-section proportion of .62 (Kendal et. al., 1989; Michelson et. al., 1991). Replicating past research, lower belief SOM ratios in this study were linked to higher levels of psychopathology. However, the optimal balance set point of .62 was not confirmed. Our research findings support the original formulation of Schwartz and Garamoni’s work in that individuals balance their cognitive states asymmetrically, but the asymmetry index was higher than the theorized optimal ratio of .62. Implications for future research and the practice of school psychology are discussed.