The connection between disgust and obsessions and compulsions in a non-clinical sample

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Francesco Mancini, Andrea Gragnani, Francesca D'Olimpio (2001): The connection between disgust and obsessions and compulsions in a non-clinical sample. In: Personality and Individual Differences, 31 (7), pp. 1173 - 1180, 2001, ISSN: 0191-8869.


Although obsessive-compulsive patients (OCD) frequently report thoughts and compulsions about dirt and contamination, there is scarce evidence for a relationship between disgust and OCD. This study investigates whether there is a specific relationship between obsessive symptoms and disgust, independently of general psychological distress symptoms. We tested 278 non-clinical volunteers, through the Disgust Scale [Haidt, J., McCauley, C., & Rozin, P. (1994). Individual differences in sensitivity to disgust: a scale sampling seven domains of disgust elicitors. Personality Individual Differences. 16, 701–713], the Padua Inventory — Revised [PI-R; van Oppen, P., Hoekstra, R. J., & Emmelkamp, M. G. (1985). The structure of obsessive-compulsive symptoms.Behaviour Research and Therapy, 33, 15–23], the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory [Spielberger, C. D., Gorsuch, R. L., Lushene, R., Vagg, P. R., & Jacobs, G. A. (1983). Manual for the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (Form Y). Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press], and the Beck Depression Inventory [Beck, A. T., & Steer, R. (1987). Beck depression inventory scoring manual. The psychological corporation. New York: Harcourt Brace Janovich]. A multiple regression analysis showed a significant positive relationship between disgust and obsessive symptoms, after controlling for gender, age, anxiety, and depression. Washing and checking behaviors were best predicted by disgust, while impulses and rumination were best predicted by anxiety and/or depression. These findings are in line with the hypothesis of a specific relationship between disgust and at least some kinds of obsessive symptoms.