Specificity of disgust sensitivity in the prediction of fear and disgust responding to a brief spider exposure.J Anxiety Disord. 2008; 22(2):328-36.JA
This study examined the specificity of disgust sensitivity in predicting fear and disgust responses to exposure to a spider. Participants high (n=22) and low (n=28) in spider fear completed self-report measures of disgust sensitivity, contamination fear, anxiety, and negative affect. They then participated in a behavioral avoidance task (BAT) in which they were briefly exposed to a realistic-looking, but fake, tarantula. Results revealed that disgust sensitivity was associated with fear and disgust responding to the BAT. The association between disgust sensitivity and disgust responding to the BAT remained significant after controlling for gender, spider fear group membership, contamination fear, anxiety, and negative affect. However, the association between disgust sensitivity and fear responding to the BAT was only marginally significant after controlling for the same variables. Contamination fear was also strongly related to fear and disgust responding to the BAT. However, this relationship was fully mediated by disgust sensitivity. These findings indicate that disgust sensitivity has a unique association with aversive responding to spiders. The implications of these findings for better understanding the complex role of fear and disgust as they related to disgust sensitivity in spider phobia are discussed.