Do obsessive-compulsive symptoms and contamination-related stimuli affect inhibition capacity?

Laura M.S. De Putter, Sofie Cromheeke, Gideon E. Anholt, Sven C. Mueller, Ernst H.W. Koster

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The current study set out to investigate trait versus state views regarding inhibitory deficits in participants scoring high and low on contamination fear. Furthermore, it was investigated whether inhibitory deficits are specific for contamination-related stimuli. Participants were selected on high (n = 40) vs. low (n = 44) contamination fear and subsequently randomly assigned to receive either a neutral induction or an obsessive-compulsive (OCD) symptom induction. Participants performed a stop-signal task including contamination-specific, general negative, and neutral pictures before and after the induction. In contrast to state views, no change in inhibitory performance after the OCD symptom induction and no differential effect of contamination-related picture valence was found. Moreover, in contrast to the trait view, baseline inhibition capacity did not predict an increase in symptoms after an OCD symptom induction. Finally, contrary to expectations, participants high in contamination fear showed better inhibition than low contamination fear controls. Therefore, the results of the current study are inconclusive regarding the state-trait debate, but are clearly in contrast with the idea of trait inhibitory deficits in contamination fear.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-80
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2018


  • Contamination fear
  • Inhibition
  • OCD
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Stop-signal task

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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