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Article

Evidence for an attention bias toward disgust in contamination fear

Journal of Experimental Psychopathology. 2019. Vol. 10. No. 3. P. 1-14.

Although attention biases are common in various anxiety disorders, there is no consensus yet regarding attentional bias in obsessive–compulsive disorder. We assessed attention bias toward images involving contamination and disgust using an emotional attentional blink paradigm in a sample of university students high (HCF) or low (LCF) in contamination fear. Neutral, general-threat-, contamination-, and disgust-related images (T1) were presented followed by a discrimination task (T2) 200, 500, or 800 ms later within a rapid serial visual presentation stream of 20 images. The HCF group was overall less accurate on the attentional blink task. Response accuracy differed by image type and lag in the two groups at the trend level and revealed a large drop in performance 200 ms following presentation of disgusting images in the HCF group. No such differences were observed at later lags in the task. There were increases in negative affect following the task for the HCF but not the LCF group, which were correlated with contamination fear scores. The results suggest that a disgust-related attention bias may be present at early stages of information processing in people with contamination fear.