Title

Obsessive–Compulsive Symptoms Are Associated With Increased Delay Discounting in a Novel Hand-Washing Task

Document Type

Article

Journal/Book Title/Conference

Behavior Analysis: Research and Practice

Volume

19

Issue

2

Publisher

American Psychological Association

Publication Date

5-1-2019

First Page

136

Last Page

149

Abstract

Delay discounting is a theoretical framework for assessing impulsivity characterized by a tendency to choose SSRs over LLRs. Despite the potential therapeutic value of targeting impulsive choice in the context of obsessive—compulsive (OC) symptoms, little research has been done to examine the link between the 2. In the present study, we examined the role of impulsivity in OC symptoms using a monetary and novel hand-washing delay-discounting task. Participants completed both delay-discounting procedures, as well as the Obsessive-Compulsive Inventory-Revised (OCI-R; Foa et al.,2002). Participants who showed steeper delay discounting in the monetary discounting task also tended to discount steeply in the washing task. In addition, participants showed significantly more delay discounting in the washing than in the monetary task, suggesting contextual control over impulsive behavior. Further, participants with washing compulsions demonstrated greater delay discounting on the washing task than those without washing compulsions. Higher scores on the Washing subscale of the OCI-R uniquely predicted delay discounting in the washing task at a level of marginal significance. Our findings suggest that impulsivity may be implicated in OC symptoms, and indicate the need for a more precise conceptualization of the relationship between impulsivity and compulsivity.

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