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Checking Certainty And Doubt

Information Handout

Psychologists have discovered interesting relationships between Checking, Certainty, And Doubt. This information handout contains an exercise helpful for individuals with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).



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Checking, Certainty, And Doubt is an information sheet about a maintenance mechanism important in obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). It includes a description of checking, and a summary of recent research which indicates that increased checking leads to decreased trust in memories. The information sheet also includes a suggestion for a behavioral experiment so that clients can explore the operation of this mechanism in their own lives.


This tool can be given to clients as psychoeducational information. Many clients will find it more effective, however, to attempt the included behavioral experiment and to discover for themselves the effects of checking upon certainty.


  • Coles, M. E., Radomsky, A. S., & Horng, B. (2006). Exploring the boundaries of memory distrust from repeated checking: Increasing external validity and examining thresholds. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 44(7), 995-1006.
  • Radomsky, A. S., & Alcolado, G. M. (2010). Don’t even think about checking: Mental checking causes memory distrust. Journal of behavior therapy and experimental psychiatry, 41(4), 345-351.
  • Radomsky, A. S., Gilchrist, P. T., & Dussault, D. (2006). Repeated checking really does cause memory distrust. Behaviour research and Therapy, 44(2), 305-316.
  • Radomsky, A. S., Rachman, S., Hammond, D. (2001). Memory bias, confidence and responsibility in compulsive checking. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 39, 813-822
  • Toffolo, M. B. J., van den Hout, M. A., Radomsky, A. S., Engelhard, I. M. (2015). Check, check, double check: Investigating memory deterioration within multiple sessions of repeated checking. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry (in press)