Date of Graduation

8-2011

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Psychology (MA)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Psychological Science

Advisor

Jeffrey M. Lohr

Committee Member

Matthew T. Feldner

Second Committee Member

William H. Levine

Keywords

Pathology; Compulsive; Contamination; Disgust; Imagery; Obsessive

Abstract

Contamination-based obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is the most common form of OCD. Recent research indicates that the emotion of disgust may play a primary role in the etiology and maintenance in contamination-based OCD (CB-OCD). However, little is known about the effects of disgust on compulsive behaviors related to CB-OCD (e.g.,, hand-washing). The present study utilized an imagery-priming paradigm to test the effects of experienced disgust on compulsive hand-washing. Seventy-eight participants were selected for high or low symptoms of CB-OCD. Following response training, participants were submitted to a disgust or neutral imagery task. Following the imagery task, participants rated their subjective fear and disgust. Participants were then allowed to wash their hands and time spent washing was recorded. Results indicated that participants in the high CB-OCD group responded with more disgust and fear following the disgust and neutral imagery task. However, there were no differences in time spent washing regardless of script or severity of CB-OCD symptoms. These findings suggest that experienced disgust may not affect hand-washing behaviors. Limitations and future directions are discussed.

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