The aim of this study was to provide an overview of the construct of desire thinking and test a metacognitive model of desire thinking and craving, based on the work of Spada, Caselli and Wells (2012; 2013), which aims to explain the perseveration of desire thinking.
We conducted two studies involving four clinical samples (total N = 493) and a community sample (N = 494) presenting with different addictive behaviors. The relationships among variables were examined by testing the fit of path models within each sample.
In the model presented it was proposed that positive metacognitions about desire thinking are associated with, in turn, imaginal prefiguration and verbal perseveration, marking the activation of desire thinking. Verbal perseveration is then associated to negative metacognitions about desire thinking and craving denoting the pathological escalation of desire thinking. Finally, a direct association between positive metacognitions about desire thinking and negative metacognitions about desire thinking would mark those occasions where target-achieving behaviour runs as an automatized schemata without the experience of craving. Results indicated a good model fit in the clinical sample and a variation in the model structure in the community sample.
These findings provide further support for the application of metacognitive theory to desire thinking and craving in addictive behaviors.