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An experimental analysis of mental contamination


An experimental analysis of mental contamination

Elliott, Corinna (2008) An experimental analysis of mental contamination. Masters thesis, Concordia University.

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The fear of contamination is thought to be comprised of two separate but related fears: those pertaining to physical and mental contamination. Mental contamination is the lesser known construct of the two, and is present among individuals suffering from anxiety disorders (e.g., OCD, hypochondriasis, PTSD, etc.), as well as female victims of sexual assault. Mental contamination involves an internal, emotional feeling of dirtiness, urges to wash, internal (e.g., shame), and external (e.g., anger) negative emotions, as well as subsequent washing behaviour(s). Previous research involving mental contamination encountered limitations in that more than one independent variable was manipulated simultaneously. In particular, an immoral act (e.g., a non-consensual kiss), had been coupled with an immoral man (e.g., the person who forces the kiss). The purpose of this study was to tease apart the immorality of the man from the immorality of the situation. Female undergraduate students from Concordia University ( n = 148), listened to an audio recording and imagined they were experiencing the event described. The audio recordings involved either sharing a consensual kiss with a man described as moral, or immoral, or receiving a forced, non-consensual kiss from a man described as moral, or immoral. Participants indicated the presence and degree of mental contamination and then completed a behavioural task for which spontaneous washing was recorded. Results indicated a non-consensual kiss from a man described as either immoral or moral before the kiss evoked the greatest feelings of mental contamination, and an interaction was present between desirability of the kiss and (im)morality of the man. Results are discussed in terms of cognitive-behavioural conceptualizations of and treatments for contamination fears.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Psychology
Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Authors:Elliott, Corinna
Pagination:vi, 60 leaves ; 29 cm.
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:M.A.
Thesis Supervisor(s):Radomsky, Adam
Identification Number:LE 3 C66P79M 2008 E45
ID Code:976163
Deposited By: Concordia University Library
Deposited On:22 Jan 2013 16:21
Last Modified:13 Jul 2020 20:09
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