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Thinking About Disgust: Cognitive Processes Mediate the Associations Between Disgust Proneness and OCD Symptom Domains


The present study explored selected cognitive domains in the relationship between disgust proneness and OCD symptomatology, investigating the associations between disgust proneness, cognitive processes, and OCD symptom domains. Undergraduate participants (N = 149) completed questionnaires measuring disgust proneness, OCD symptomatology, and OCD-relevant beliefs. Six parallel mediation models were run to explore vulnerability pathways between disgust proneness and OCD symptom domains. Several cognitive processes mediated the association between disgust proneness and OCD symptom domains: contamination thought–action fusion and contamination sensitivity in contamination symptoms; importance of/need to control thoughts in repugnant obsessions; contamination thought–action fusion and perfectionism/intolerance of uncertainty in “just right” symptoms; and importance of/need to control thoughts and contamination sensitivity in mental contamination symptoms. No cognitive processes mediated the association between disgust proneness and checking symptoms. These findings highlight the relevance of disgust proneness across OCD symptom domains and shed light on potential symptom-specific cognitive intervention targets. Disgust was found to predict contamination symptoms, as well as several OCD symptom domains. Cognitive processes mediated the association between disgust and OCD symptoms. This was true not just for contamination-related symptoms but for most other domains as well. Findings highlight possible avenues for additional research and treatment targeting these domains in the laboratory and clinic.

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  1. Participants were randomized to one of three experimental conditions. Three sets of multivariate analyses of variance (MANOVAs) indicated that there were no differences between participants in the different experimental conditions on any of the variables under investigation in the current study (i.e., OBQ belief domains; OCD symptom domains; contamination sensitivity and contamination thought–action fusion; all p’s > .05). A one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) also indicated no differences in disgust proneness across experimental conditions, F (2, 146) = 1.30, p = .276.


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Correspondence to Adam S. Radomsky.

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Krause, S., Ouellet-Courtois, C., Sandstrom, A. et al. Thinking About Disgust: Cognitive Processes Mediate the Associations Between Disgust Proneness and OCD Symptom Domains. J Cogn Ther 15, 231–254 (2022).

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  • Disgust proneness
  • Obsessive–compulsive disorder
  • Cognitive mechanisms
  • OCD symptom domains