Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Wu, Kevin D.

Degree Name

Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy)

Legacy Department

Department of Psychology


Obsessive-compulsive disorder; Emotions (Philosophy)


Cognitive theories of OCD emphasize the role of dysfunctional interpretations of one's thoughts in the etiology and maintenance of OC symptoms. However, high levels of dysfunctional obsessive beliefs are not found to be characteristic of all individuals with OCD. The current study sought to investigate the possibility that an alternative process for symptom development may need to be considered. Specifically, it was hypothesized that low tolerance to various emotional experiences may be an important factor contributing to OC symptoms. Due to the heterogeneity of OCD, the "intolerable" emotional experience was thought to vary among individuals based on their specific symptoms. The study also predicted that low emotion tolerance would moderate the association between dysfunctional obsessive beliefs and OC symptoms. In other words, individuals with low emotion tolerance were thought to be at an increased likelihood to develop OCD symptoms in response to their dysfunctional beliefs. Valid completers of the study (n = 336) were recruited through Amazon Mechanical Turk, and completed a battery of questionnaires online. A series of regression analyses was conducted to examine whether emotion intolerance contributes to symptoms of OCD while controlling for relevant variables. A regression analysis also was conducted to test whether the relationship between dysfunctional beliefs and OCD symptoms is moderated by emotion intolerance. In general, results suggested that one's ability to tolerate emotional experiences might be important in OCD, specifically experiences of disgust, anxiety/apprehension, and sadness/depression. However, the effect sizes found in this study were small, and some findings did not remain significant after controlling for other relevant variables. Explanations and future directions are explored.


Advisors: Kevin D. Wu.||Committee members: Michelle Lilly; Holly Orcutt; David Valentiner; Karen White; Scott Wickman.||Includes bibliographical references.


v, 100 pages




Northern Illinois University

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