Thought-action fusion: review of the literature and future directions

David Berle, Vladan Starcevic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

111 Citations (Scopus)


Thought-action fusion (TAF) is the tendency for individuals to assume that certain thoughts either imply the immorality of their character or increase the likelihood of catastrophic events. The burgeoning literature on TAF is reviewed. It is not clear whether TAF refers to a specific appraisal style, a more enduring belief, or a combination of both. Inconsistent definitions of magical thinking have hindered better understanding of the relationship between TAF and magical thinking. Much work remains to be done to improve assessment and measurement of TAF. TAF is associated with tendencies towards obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and may contribute to its symptoms. However, the literature investigating TAF and other variables implicated in OCD remains inconclusive. It is suggested that TAF is not specific to OCD, but also prevalent in other anxiety disorders. TAF appears to be moderately related to depressive symptoms and a similar bias may contribute to preoccupations in eating disorders. TAF is also associated with the presence of psychological disorders in children and adolescents. Educational and cognitive therapy approaches to reduce TAF and consequent symptoms are discussed, and suggestions for further research made.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)263-84
Number of pages22
JournalClinical Psychology Review
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anxiety Disorders
  • Child
  • Cognition
  • Cognition Disorders
  • Cognitive Therapy
  • Depressive Disorder
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders
  • Humans
  • Mental Processes
  • Models, Psychological
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
  • Personality Inventory
  • Psychoanalytic Theory
  • Psychometrics
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Journal Article
  • Review


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