Disgust as a unique affective predictor of mental contamination following sexual trauma

Christal L. Badour, Rachel Ojserkis, Dean McKay, Matthew T. Feldner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Mental contamination has been described as an internal experience of dirtiness that can arise and persist in the absence of contact with observable physical contaminants. Recent research has examined mental contamination specifically related to unwanted physical contact and sexual trauma. This study evaluated the degree to which disgust propensity and both self-focused and perpetrator-focused peritraumatic disgust were associated with mental contamination in a sample of women who experienced sexual trauma (n= 72). Results showed that peritraumatic self-focused disgust, but not peritraumatic perpetrator-focused disgust or fear, was significantly associated with mental contamination. Additionally, disgust propensity contributed significantly to the incremental validity of the model. These findings support the nascent literature showing that disgust plays a significant role in mental contamination, particularly following sexual trauma. Future research directions, and clinical/theoretical implications of these results are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)704-711
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Anxiety Disorders
Issue number7
StatePublished - Oct 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported, in part, by a + Business, American Psychological Association, and Springer Publications (for book royalties and as Editor of NIMH National Research Service Award ( F31 MH092994-01 ) awarded to the first author. The expressed views do not necessarily represent those of NIMH, the Department of Veterans Affairs, or the United States government. Dean McKay receives royalties from: Sage Publications, Elsevier, Johns Hopkins Press, Springer Science Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy ).


  • Disgust
  • Mental contamination
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder
  • Sexual trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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