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The effect of disgust on anxiety ratings to fear-relevant, disgust-relevant and fear-irrelevant stimuli

By Graham C L Davey, Benie A MacDonald and Lucy Brierley


This study investigated the effect of an experimental disgust induction and experience of a homophone spelling task on subsequent anxiety to fear-relevant, disgust-relevant and fear-irrelevant stimuli in a non-clinical population. The design of the study allowed an assessment of (1) whether disgust facilitates anxiety only if the stimulus being evaluated is disgust-relevant and (2) whether experiencing the threat-interpretation bias induced by disgust facilitates anxiety generally. The results indicated that a disgust induction facilitated levels of self-reported anxiety to a range of scenarios regardless of whether they were disgust-relevant, fear-relevant or fear-irrelevant, and regardless of whether participants had experienced the disgust-induced threat-interpretation bias. This study provides evidence for a general effect of disgust on self-reported anxiety to stimuli regardless of the disgust-relevance or fear-relevance of those stimuli. The results lend support to the view that disgust has a causal effect on anxiety, and implicates disgust as a risk factor for anxious psychopathology

Year: 2008
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