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J Anxiety Disord. 2009 Jan;23(1):60-8. doi: 10.1016/j.janxdis.2008.03.017. Epub 2008 Apr 7.

Information processing in contamination fear: a covariation bias examination of fear and disgust.

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University of Arkansas, AR, United States.


The current study represents the first examination of covariation biases in contamination fear. Using an undergraduate sample we examined covariation bias for specific emotion outcomes (fear specific and disgust specific) associated with contamination stimuli in high contamination fear (HCF; n=32) and low contamination fear (LCF; n=30) individuals. Following random stimulus-outcome presentation participants provided estimations on the proportion of each presented stimulus-expression pairing. Analyses revealed a specific bias for the over-estimation of fear and disgust contingencies among the HCF group, but not the LCF group. The current study also revealed a specific covariation bias among HCF, not LCF, participants to over-estimate the contingency between contamination stimuli and fear outcomes, not disgust outcomes. Further, results indicate that HCF individuals significantly under-estimate the covariation among contamination stimuli and safety outcomes compared to LCF participants. These findings are discussed in terms of theoretical implications for information processing biases in anxiety disorders.

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