Cognitive and psychophysiological correlates of disgust in obsessive-compulsive disorder

Whitton, Alexis E., Henry, Julie D. and Grisham, Jessica R. (2014) Cognitive and psychophysiological correlates of disgust in obsessive-compulsive disorder. British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 54 1: 16-33. doi:10.1111/bjc.12058

Author Whitton, Alexis E.
Henry, Julie D.
Grisham, Jessica R.
Title Cognitive and psychophysiological correlates of disgust in obsessive-compulsive disorder
Journal name British Journal of Clinical Psychology   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0144-6657
Publication date 2014-06-10
Year available 2014
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1111/bjc.12058
Open Access Status Not Open Access
Volume 54
Issue 1
Start page 16
End page 33
Total pages 18
Place of publication John Wiley & Sons
Publisher Chichester, West Sussex, United Kingdom
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Objectives: Evidence suggests that obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is characterized by heightened self-reported disgust, however, it is unclear if this extends to physiology. The relationship between obsessive beliefs and disgust also remains poorly understood. Therefore, we examined whether the heightened trait and self-reported disgust observed in individuals with OCD is reflected in heightened physiological disgust responses. We also examined whether obsessive beliefs are associated with disgust responding.

Design: A 3 (group) × 6 (stimulus) repeated measures design was used to examine disgust responses in individuals with OCD to six categories of image stimuli: body waste, contamination, injury, sociomoral, neutral, negative non-disgust.

Methods: Individuals with OCD (n = 25) were compared to individuals with non-OCD anxiety disorders (n = 21) and healthy participants (n = 25) with respect to trait, self-reported, facial electromyographic and electrodermal disgust responses.

Results: Individuals with OCD showed greater disgust propensity and self-reported disgust to images of body waste compared to healthy and anxious participants, however, there were no group differences in physiological responses. After controlling for trait disgust, obsessive beliefs positively correlated with increased self-reported disgust to neutral images and increased levator labii activity to negative non-disgusting images.

Conclusions: Although individuals with OCD showed elevated disgust propensity and self-reported ratings of body waste stimuli, there was little evidence that OCD is characterized by an abnormal physiological disgust response. The intensity of obsessive beliefs was associated with a tendency to respond with disgust in contexts that are non-disgusting, indicating that obsessive beliefs may be implicated in pathological disgust.
Keyword Obsessive-compulsive disorder
Obsessive beliefs
Facial electromyography
Skin conductance
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ
Additional Notes Published online ahead of print 10 June 2014.

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2015 Collection
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