Incremental specificity of disgust propensity and sensitivity in the prediction of health anxiety dimensions.
ABSTRACT The present study sought to determine the incremental specificity of disgust propensity and sensitivity in the prediction of symptoms of health anxiety in a large nonclinical sample (N=498). Exploratory factor analysis identified Illness Likelihood, Illness Severity, and Body Vigilance as dimensions of health anxiety symptoms that significantly correlated with disgust propensity and sensitivity. Negative affect and the fear of contamination were also significantly correlated with the three health anxiety symptom dimensions. Regression analyses did show that disgust propensity and sensitivity predicted overall health anxiety symptoms independent of negative affect and fear of contamination. However, the unique association between disgust propensity and sensitivity and symptoms of health anxiety was specific to the Body Vigilance dimension. These findings suggest that disgust propensity and sensitivity may be a unique vulnerability for the vigilance for bodily sensations/changes aspect of health anxiety but not necessarily other (perceived probability/severity of having a serious illness) aspects of health anxiety. The clinical and research implications of these findings for conceptualizing disgust propensity and sensitivity as a vulnerability for excessive health anxiety are discussed.
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ABSTRACT: This review analyses the accumulating evidence from psychological, psychophysiological, neurobiological and cognitive studies suggesting that the disease-avoidance emotion of disgust is a predominant emotion experienced in a number of psychopathologies. Current evidence suggests that disgust is significantly related to small animal phobias (particularly spider phobia), blood-injection-injury phobia and obsessive-compulsive disorder contamination fears, and these are all disorders that have primary disgust elicitors as a significant component of their psychopathology. Disgust propensity and sensitivity are also significantly associated with measures of a number of other psychopathologies, including eating disorders, sexual dysfunctions, hypochondriasis, height phobia, claustrophobia, separation anxiety, agoraphobia and symptoms of schizophrenia--even though many of these psychopathologies do not share the disease-avoidance functionality that characterizes disgust. There is accumulating evidence that disgust does represent an important vulnerability factor for many of these psychopathologies, but when disgust-relevant psychopathologies do meet the criteria required for clinical diagnosis, they are characterized by significant levels of both disgust and fear/anxiety. Finally, it has been argued that disgust may also facilitate anxiety and distress across a broad range of psychopathologies through its involvement in more complex human emotions such as shame and guilt, and through its effect as a negative affect emotion generating threat-interpretation biases.Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society B Biological Sciences 12/2011; 366(1583):3453-65. · 6.40 Impact Factor