Cognitive Therapy and Research

, Volume 42, Issue 5, pp 686–698 | Cite as

Attentional Bias and Its Modification in Contamination OCD Symptomatology

  • Melissa Rouel
  • Evelyn Smith
Original Article


Attentional biases, particularly difficulty disengaging, have been found in contamination obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD) and may be a maintaining factor. Attentional bias modification (ABM) may reduce this bias and avoidance behavior. This study examined attentional biases in 54 individuals with contamination OCD symptomatology and whether ABM reduces biases and symptoms. Participants completed one 30 min session of either ABM training or a control task and a spatial cueing task before and after to assess attentional bias. Questionnaires and behavioral tasks were also completed. Participants returned for a follow up 1 month later. As expected, there was evidence of difficulty disengaging from threats directly and indirectly associated with disease. Attention training led to a reduction in this bias, which was maintained for 1 month. However, there was no improvement in avoidance or contamination fear on a behavioral task, contamination OCD symptoms, safety behaviors and anxiety. Implications for treatment of OCD are discussed.


Obsessive–compulsive disorder Contamination fear Attentional bias Difficulty disengaging Attentional bias modification 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Ms Rouel and Dr Smith declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Animal Rights

This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of the authors.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Social Sciences and PsychologyWestern Sydney UniversityPenrith South DCAustralia
  2. 2.Clinical and Health Psychology Research Initiative (CaHPRI)Western Sydney UniversityPenrith South DCAustralia

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