ISSN 2043-8087
Journal of Experimental Psychopathology
 Volume 6, Issue 3, 264-277, 2015
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If a Safety Aid is Present, There Must be Danger: The Paradoxical Effects of Hand Sanitizer during a Contamination Exposure Task

  Shannon Blakey - University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Department of Psychology, Chapel Hill, NC USA.
  Brett Deacon - University of Wollongong, School of Psychology, NSW Australia

Volume 6, Issue 3, 2015, Pages 264-277

Perceptions of danger often arise in the context of feared threat cues, but individuals also rely on other heuristics that lead them to infer danger in ambiguous situations. For example, individuals may interpret their own anxiety or safetyseeking behaviors as indicators of threat. Another potential source of danger information is the mere availability of safety aids in the environment. Although assumed to be helpful, safety aids might paradoxically elicit, rather than alleviate, anxiety. The present study was designed to assess the degree to which concern-relevant safety aids exacerbate distress. Participants (N = 71) completed several self-report measures and engaged in a contaminationrelated behavioral avoidance task (BAT) in the presence or absence of a 2L hand sanitizer dispenser. Results showed that participants higher in trait contamination aversion and in the presence of hand sanitizer endorsed greater inferences of danger, hypervigilance, peak BAT anxiety and disgust, BAT avoidance, and urges to wash following the BAT. Theoretical and clinical implications of the paradoxical inference of danger from the presence of safety aids are discussed.

Table of Contents
Participant Recruitment and Random Assignment to Conditions
Baseline equivalence of conditions and normality of distributions
Manipulation check
Dependent variable descriptive statistics and tests of main effects of condition
Primary analyses: The moderating effects of contamination aversion on BAT responses in each condition

Correspondence to
Shannon M. Blakey University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Department of Psychology,Davie Hall (CB 3270), 235 E. Cameron Ave, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA.

anxiety; disgust; danger; safety; hypervigilance; contamination

Received 3 Jan 2014; Revised 11 Feb 2015; Accepted 11 Feb 2015; In Press 2 Oct 2015

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