Disgust sensitivity and contamination fears in spider and blood-injection-injury phobias

Craig N. Sawchuk, Jeffrey M. Lohr, David F. Tolin, Thomas C. Lee, Ronald A. Kleinknecht

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

124 Scopus citations


Disgust has been implicated in the onset and maintenance of blood-injection-injury (BII) and animal phobias. Research suggests that people with these phobias are characterized by an elevated sensitivity to disgust-evoking stimuli separate from their phobic concerns. The disgust response has been described as the rejection of potential contaminants. Disgust-motivated avoidance of phobic stimuli may therefore be related to fears of contamination or infection. The present study compared BII phobics, spider phobics and nonphobics on two measures of disgust sensitivity and two measures of contamination fears. Positive correlations were found between disgust sensitivity and contamination fear. Specific phobics scored higher than nonphobics on all scales and BII phobics scored higher than spider phobics on contamination fear measures. Furthermore, the contamination fear scales were correlated with the blood phobia measure, but not correlated with the spider phobia measure. The results suggest that while both phobias are characterized by elevated disgust sensitivity, contamination fear is more prominent in BII than spider phobia. Copyright (C) 2000 Elsevier Science Ltd.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)753-762
Number of pages10
JournalBehaviour Research and Therapy
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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