Honors Theses


Julie Walsh-Messinger, Ph.D



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Honors Thesis


Odor detection and disgust sensitivity were once vital to survival by providing a means to assess if foods were safe for consumption. Along with odor detection and disgust sensitivity, obsessivecompulsive traits, such as checking, may have increased chance of survival by decreasing the likelihood of consuming contaminated foods leading to an evolutionary advantage (Rozin & Fallon, 1987). Current regulations that prevent the distribution of spoiled and contaminated foods in developed societies make these processes less necessary to survival today; as a result, obsessive compulsive traits that may have once been advantageous may now be pathological. Neural connections also suggest a relation between obsessive-compulsive traits, olfaction, and disgust. This study examined associations between obsessive compulsive personality traits (e.g. rigid perfectionism), odor detection sensitivity, perceived odor pleasantness and disgust sensitivity. The sample included 79 undergraduate students who were assessed for odor detection sensitivity, perceived odor pleasantness, and completed the NEO Personality Inventory-3 (NEOPI-3; McCrae, Costa & Martin, 2005), the Personality Inventory for DSM-5 (PID-5; Krueger, Derringer, Markon, Watson, & Skodol, 2012), and the Disgust Scale-Revised (Haidt, Mccauley & Rozin, 1994). It was hypothesized that elevated perfectionism would be associated with lower odor detection sensitivity, lower odor pleasantness scores, higher disgust scores, and higher neuroticism. No hypotheses were supported; however, higher rigid perfectionism was significantly associated with greater odor detection sensitivity. This study provides further understanding of relationships between perfectionism, disgust and olfaction. The findings of this study indicate that rigid perfectionism may contribute to other aspects of OCD and OCPD.

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Undergraduate research



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