Can doubt attenuate access to internal states? Implications for obsessive-compulsive disorder

Amit Lazarov, Tamar Cohen, Nira Liberman, Reuven Dar*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background and objectives We have previously reported that obsessive-compulsive individuals perform more poorly on tasks that require accurate perception of internal states. As these individuals are also characterized by elevated levels of doubt regarding internal states, the causal relationship between doubt and accurate perception remained unclear. The presented study examines whether undermining participants' confidence in their ability to accurately produce a specific internal state would affect their performance on a task that requires accurate perception of this state. Methods Participants were trained to produce specific levels of forearm muscle tension and then required to produce various tension levels in four experimental phases. The first three alternated in terms of whether the participants viewed a biofeedback monitor while the fourth offered participants several times the choice to view the monitor. Prior to the task, half of the participants received instructions that undermined their confidence in their ability to accurately assess their own muscle tension. We measured participants' accuracy in producing the required muscle tension levels and the number of times they requested to view the monitor in the final phase. Results Undermined confidence participants were less accurate in producing the required muscle tension levels in the absence of biofeedback, and were also more likely to request the monitor in the final phase. Conclusions Doubt can affect performance on tasks that require perceiving and experiencing internal states. This finding supports the possibility that access to internal states in OCD is attenuated due to elevated levels of doubt regarding these states.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)150-156
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry
Volume49
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2015

Funding

FundersFunder number
Israel Science Foundation1156/11

    Keywords

    • Biofeedback
    • Doubt
    • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
    • Proxies

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