Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

M.A. in Psychology

First Advisor

Danielle J. Maack

Second Advisor

Alan M. Gross

Third Advisor

Stefan E. Schulenberg

Relational Format



A number of emotions have been identified as contributing to the experience of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), including fear and disgust. Given the high rates of comorbidity between PTSD and OCD, research has suggested that disgust may be a likely link between these disorders. The current study examined the relation between contamination disgust, trauma symptom severity, and contamination related-OCD (C-OCD) symptoms in a sample of sexual and non-sexual trauma survivors (N = 206). Specifically, it was proposed that sexual trauma survivors would endorse more severe PTSD symptoms, higher levels of disgust, and more C-OCD symptoms. Furthermore, it was hypothesized that contamination disgust would mediate the relationship between PTSD symptom severity and C-OCD symptoms. Correlational analyses indicated in the overall sample, significant positive correlations between disgust sensitivity, PTSD symptom severity, anxiety sensitivity, and C-OCD symptoms. However, results varied between groups (sexual trauma, other trauma, no trauma) as the primary variables of interest (disgust sensitivity, PTSD symptom severity, and C-OCD symptoms) were not correlated in the sexual trauma group. A subsequent MANOVA was conducted which illustrated group differences on trauma symptom severity with the sexual trauma group reporting significantly higher symptom severity compared to both the non-sexual trauma group and the non-trauma control group. No group differences were found in the experience of contamination disgust or C-OCD symptoms. Finally, a mediation analyses was conducted which revealed that contamination disgust did not mediate the relationship between trauma symptom severity and C-COD symptoms. Overall, findings support previous research that sexual trauma survivors experience heightened posttraumatic symptom severity, however, more research is needed to further understand the role of contamination disgust in the relationship between PTSD and OCD, as well as examine the potential contribution of other transdiagnostic variables, such as self-disgust, moral disgust, and mental contamination.



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