Specificity of disgust domains in the prediction of contamination anxiety and avoidance: A multimodal examination

Bunmi O. Olatunji, Chad Ebesutani, Jonathan Haidt, Craig N. Sawchuk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

26 Scopus citations

Abstract

Although core, animal-reminder, and contamination disgust are viewed as distinct "types" of disgust vulnerabilities, the extent to which individual differences in the three disgust domains uniquely predict contamination-related anxiety and avoidance remains unclear. Three studies were conducted to fill this important gap in the literature. Study 1 was conducted to first determine if the three types of disgust could be replicated in a larger and more heterogeneous sample. Confirmatory factor analysis revealed that a bifactor model consisting of a "general disgust" dimension and the three distinct disgust dimensions yielded a better fit than a one-factor model. Structural equation modeling in Study 2 showed that while latent core, animal-reminder, and contamination disgust factors each uniquely predicted a latent "contamination anxiety" factor above and beyond general disgust, only animal-reminder uniquely predicted a latent "non-contamination anxiety" factor above and beyond general disgust. However, Study 3 found that only contamination disgust uniquely predicted behavioral avoidance in a public restroom where contamination concerns are salient. These findings suggest that although the three disgust domains are associated with contamination anxiety and avoidance, individual differences in contamination disgust sensitivity appear to be most uniquely predictive of contamination-related distress. The implications of these findings for the development and maintenance of anxiety-related disorders marked by excessive contamination concerns are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)469-481
Number of pages13
JournalBehavior Therapy
Volume45
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2014

Keywords

  • Avoidance
  • Contamination
  • Disgust
  • OCD

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology

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