Absorption, Social Desirability, and Symptoms in a Behavioral Medicine Population

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The relationships among absorption, social desirability, and psychological and somatic symptoms were examined in a clinical population of patients at a behavioral medicine clinic. Absorption, as measured by the Tellegen Absorption Scale, was significantly and positively related to the somatization and global distress indices of the Brief Symptom Inventory. However, absorption was negatively related to social desirability, as measured by the Marlowe-Crowne Scale. Global distress, but not somatization, also was negatively related to social desirability. After controlling for social desirability, global distress was marginally related to absorption. In addition, absorption interacted with a measure of how much patients were bothered by their primary symptom. Patients who had high absorption reported more somatic and global distress if they also reported being very bothered by their primary symptom than if they were less bothered by it. The results are discussed with respect to related research on absorption, social desirability, and symptoms.

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