Behavioral avoidance and self-reported fainting symptoms in blood/injury fearful individuals: an experimental test of disgust domain specificity.J Anxiety Disord. 2008 Jun; 22(5):837-48.JA
This study examined the specificity of disgust in predicting avoidance in blood/injury (BI) phobia. Participants high (n=38) and low (n=46) in BI fear completed measures of disgust across multiple domains and severity of BI-related fear. They then completed three randomly presented behavioral avoidance tasks (BATs) that consisted of exposure to a 15'' severed deer leg (BI task), a live spider (spider task), and a 'contaminated' cookie (cookie task). Fainting symptoms associated with each BAT were recorded as well. When controlling for gender and BI fear group membership, mutilation disgust contributed unique variance to avoidance on the BI task and animal disgust contributed unique variance to avoidance on the spider task. None of the disgust domains contributed unique variance to avoidance on the cookie task. For the high BI fear group, self-reported fainting symptoms were more pronounced during the BI and spider BAT than during the cookie BAT. Although mutilation disgust was significantly associated with self-reported fainting symptoms on the BI task among the high BI fear group, this relationship became nonsignificant when controlling for BI-related fear severity. Implications of the domain specificity of disgust and its relevance for understanding fainting responses in BI phobia are discussed.