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Danger appraisals as prospective predictors of disgust and avoidance Dorfan, Nicole Michelle

Abstract

Recent theories posit that cognitive factors explain the development and maintenance of contamination fears associated with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). Few studies to date have aimed to establish causality or temporal precedence for cognitions predicting OCD-relevant distress and avoidance. The current study used a prospective design to assess threat appraisals, personality traits, and obsessive compulsive symptoms in an unselected sample of university students and community members (N = 105) several days prior to a contamination behavioural approach task (BAT) in a public washroom. Results of the hierarchical regressions demonstrated that prospective danger appraisals significantly predicted both disgust and avoidance on the BAT, even when controlling for neuroticism, disgust sensitivity, and OCD symptoms. In contrast, looming germ spread appraisals and responsibility appraisals were not significant predictors of the BAT. Results from in vivo distress ratings and implicit reaction time data indicated that disgust is more strongly associated with contaminants compared with anxiety. The findings of this research suggest that psychological treatment for contamination concerns should include monitoring of disgust as a process and outcome variable in exposure paradigms, and focus on reappraisal of danger estimates related to disease in cognitive paradigms.

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