Electronic Theses and Dissertations


The Role of Disgust in Eating Disorders


Eun Ha Kim

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Ph.D. in Psychology

First Advisor

Alan M. Gross

Second Advisor

Marc Showalter

Third Advisor

Scott A. Gustafson


Disgust, a basic emotional response, which influences approach/avoidance behaviors, has been studied in various psychological disorders, including anxiety, depression, and eating disorders. The current study employed exploratory correlations and hierarchical linear regressions (controlling for race, anxiety, and depression) in order to be able to observe the relationships among three traditional domains of disgust (i.e., core, animal-reminder, contamination) and eating disordered behaviors. Results revealed significant correlations between core disgust and dieting behaviors, in addition to contamination disgust and bulimia and symptoms of food preoccupation as well as behaviors concerning self-control around food-related stimuli (i.e., oral control). More importantly, disgust sensitivity was significant in predicting oral control and significantly accounted for 4.7% of the unique variance in predicting symptoms of bulimia and preoccupation with food. These results reveal the significant role of contamination disgust in the development and maintenance of eating pathology above and beyond known predictors of maladaptive eating and other domains of disgust. Implications of the current findings as well as future directions are discussed.

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