Responsibility/Threat Overestimation Moderates the Relationship Between Contamination-Based Disgust and Obsessive–Compulsive Concerns About Sexual Orientation
- 129 Downloads
Disgust has been shown to perform a “disease-avoidance” function in contamination fears. However, no studies have examined the relevance of disgust to obsessive–compulsive (OC) concerns about sexual orientation (e.g., fear of one’s sexual orientation transforming against one’s will, and compulsive avoidance of same-sex and/or gay or lesbian individuals to prevent that from happening). Therefore, we investigated whether the specific domain of contamination-based disgust (i.e., evoked by the perceived threat of transmission of essences between individuals) predicted OC concerns about sexual orientation, and whether this effect was moderated/amplified by obsessive beliefs, in evaluation of a “sexual orientation transformation-avoidance” function. We recruited 283 self-identified heterosexual college students (152 females, 131 males; mean age = 20.88 years, SD = 3.19) who completed three measures assessing disgust, obsessive beliefs, and OC concerns about sexual orientation. Results showed that contamination-based disgust (β = .17), responsibility/threat overestimation beliefs (β = .15), and their interaction (β = .17) each uniquely predicted OC concerns about sexual orientation, ts = 2.22, 2.50, and 2.90, ps < .05. Post hoc probing indicated that high contamination-based disgust accompanied by strong responsibility/threat overestimation beliefs predicted more severe OC concerns about sexual orientation, β = .48, t = 3.24, p < .001. The present study, therefore, provided preliminary evidence for a “sexual orientation transformation-avoidance” process underlying OC concerns about sexual orientation in heterosexual college students, which is facilitated by contamination-based disgust, and exacerbated by responsibility/threat overestimation beliefs. Treatment for OC concerns about sexual orientation should target such beliefs.
KeywordsContamination-based disgust Sexual orientation Obsessive–compulsive disorder
The authors would like to thank Darlene Davis for development of the data collection instruments and assistance in the collection of data during the early stages of this project. The authors also thank Ghazel Tellawi, Joseph Slimowicz, Melissa Ellsworth, and Victoria Schlaudt for help with recruitment of participants. We would also like to thank Jessica Dowell for help with data entry and assisting with recruitment of participants.
All authors conceptualized the research. The first author conducted the literature search, analyzed the data, and wrote the first draft of the manuscript. All authors contributed to the final version of the manuscript.
This research was completely self-funded.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that there are no conflicts of interest.
This research was compliant with the ethical standards set by the institutional review board in which it was housed.
- Athey, A. J., Elias, J. A., Crosby, J. M., Jenike, M. A., Pope, H. G., Jr., Hudson, J. I., et al. (2015). Reduced disgust propensity is associated with improvement in contamination/washing symptoms in obsessive-compulsive disorder. Journal of Obsessive–Compulsive and Related Disorders, 4, 20–24. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jocrd.2014.11.001.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Cougle, J. R., Lee, H.-J., Horowitz, J. D., Wolitzky-Taylor, K. B., & Telch, M. J. (2008). An exploration of the relationship between mental pollution and OCD symptoms. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 39, 340–353. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbtep.2007.08.007.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- David, B., Olatunji, B. O., Armstrong, T., Ciesielski, B. G., Bondy, C. L., & Broman-Fulks, J. (2009). Incremental specificity of disgust sensitivity in the prediction of obsessive-compulsive disorder symptoms: Cross-sectional and prospective approaches. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 40, 533–543. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbtep.2009.07.004.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Hershfield, J., & Corboy, T. (2013). The mindfulness workbook for OCD: A guide to overcoming obsessions and compulsions using mindfulness and cognitive behavioral therapy. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications.Google Scholar
- Melli, G., Moulding, R., Gelli, S., Chiorri, S., & Pinto, A. (2016). Assessing sexual orientation-related obsessions and compulsions in Italian heterosexual individuals: Development and validation of the Sexual Orientation Obsessive-Compulsive Scale (SO-OCS). Behavior Therapy, 47, 431–443. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.beth.2016.03.004.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Obsessive Compulsive Cognitions Working Group. (2005). Psychometric validation of the Obsessive Belief Questionnaire and Interpretation of Intrusions Inventory: Part 2: Factor analyses and testing of a brief version. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 43, 1527–1542. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.brat.2004.07.010.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Olatunji, B. O., Haidt, J., McKay, D., & David, B. (2008). Core, animal reminder, and contamination disgust: Three kinds of disgust with distinct personality, behavioral, physiological, and clinical correlates. Journal of Research in Personality, 42, 1243–1259. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jrp.2008.03.009.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Olatunji, B. O., Moretz, M. W., McKay, D., Bjorklund, F., de Jong, P. J., Haidt, J., et al. (2009a). Confirming the three-factor structure of the Disgust Scale-Revised in eight countries. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 40, 234–255. https://doi.org/10.1177/0022022108328918.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Olatunji, B. O., Moretz, M. W., Wolitzky-Taylor, K. B., McKay, D., McGrath, P. B., & Ciesielski, B. G. (2010). Disgust vulnerability and symptoms of contamination-based OCD: Descriptive tests of incremental specificity. Behavior Therapy, 41, 475–490. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.beth.2009.11.005.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Olatunji, B. O., Tart, C. D., Ciesielski, B. G., McGrath, P. B., & Smits, J. A. J. (2011). Specificity of disgust vulnerability in the distinction and treatment of OCD. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 45, 1236–1242. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpsychires.2011.01.018.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Olatunji, B. O., Williams, N. L., Tolin, D. F., Abramowitz, J. S., Sawchuk, C. N., Lohr, J. M., & Elwood, L. S. (2007b). The Disgust Scale: Item analysis, factor structure, and suggestions for refinement. Psychological Assessment, 19, 281–297. https://doi.org/10.1037/1040-35220.127.116.111.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Olatunji, B. O., Wolitzky-Taylor, K. B., Willems, J., Lohr, J. M., & Armstrong, T. (2009b). Differential habituation of fear and disgust during repeated exposure to threat-relevant stimuli in contamination-based OCD: An analogue study. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 23, 118–123. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.janxdis.2008.04.006.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Ponniah, K., Magiati, I., & Hollon, S. D. (2013). An update on the efficacy of psychological therapies in the treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder in adults. Journal of Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders, 2, 207–218. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jocrd.2013.02.005.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Rozin, P., Haidt, J., & McCauley, C. R. (2000). Disgust. In M. Lewis & J. M. Haviland-Jones (Eds.), Handbook of emotions (2nd ed., pp. 637–653). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
- Starcevic, V., Berle, D., Brakoulias, V., Sammut, P., Moses, K., Milicevic, D., et al. (2011). The nature and correlates of avoidance in obsessive-compulsive disorder. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 45, 871–879. https://doi.org/10.3109/00048674.2011.607632.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Storch, E. A., Rasmussen, S. A., Price, L. H., Larson, M. J., Murphy, T. K., & Goodman, W. K. (2010). Development and psychometric evaluation of the Yale-Brown Obsessive–Compulsive Scale—second edition. Psychological Assessment, 22, 223–232. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0018492.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- van den Hout, M. A., Engelhard, I. M., Toffolo, M. B. J., & van Uijen, S. L. (2011). Exposure plus response prevention versus exposure plus safety behaviours in reducing feelings of contamination, fear, danger and disgust. An extended replication of Rachman, Shafran, Radomsky & Zysk (2011). Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 42, 364–370. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbtep.2011.02.009.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Wilhelm, S., Berman, N. C., Keshaviah, A., Schwartz, R. A., & Steketee, G. (2015). Mechanisms of change in cognitive therapy for obsessive compulsive disorder: Role of maladaptive beliefs and schemas. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 65, 5–10. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.brat.2014.12.006.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Williams, M. T. (2008). Homosexuality anxiety: A misunderstood form of OCD. In L. V. Sebeki (Ed.), Leading-edge health education issues (pp. 195–205). Happauge, NY: Nova Science Publishers.Google Scholar
- Williams, M. T., Ching, T. H. W., Tellawi, G., Siev, J., Dowell, J., Schlaudt, V., et al. (2017). Assessing sexual orientation symptoms in obsessive-compulsive disorder: Development and validation of the Sexual Orientation Obsessions and Reactions Test (SORT). Behavior Therapy. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.beth.2017.12.005.Google Scholar
- Williams, M. T., Slimowicz, J., Tellawi, G., & Wetterneck, C. (2014). Sexual orientation symptoms in obsessive compulsive disorder: Assessment and treatment with cognitive behavioral therapy. Directions in Psychiatry, 34, 37–50.Google Scholar
- Williams, M. T., Tellawi, G., Davis, D. M., & Slimowicz, J. (2015a). Assessment and treatment of sexual orientation obsessions in obsessive–compulsive disorder. Australian Clinical Psychologist, 1, 12–18.Google Scholar