What you see is what you do: Imagery and the moral judgements of individuals with OCD

Alexia Trafford, Abigail Wroe, Gary Brown, Olga Luzon

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Background: It has been suggested that differences in moral judgements play a role in Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Specifically, it has been proposed that individuals with OCD make moral judgements using more deontological rather than utilitarian principles. Visualising an image has also been linked to making deontological judgements in non-clinical populations; however, this has not yet been tested in individuals with OCD, who often experience intrusive imagery.
Method: One hundred and forty-five participants (including 30 with OCD and 27 in a comparison group) answered questions on moral dilemmas that required them to choose between deontological and utilitarian options. The mediational role of imagery in the relationship between OCD and deontological moral judgements was tested.
Results: A greater presence of OCD symptomatology was associated with making more deontological judgements. However, when compared by group, individuals with OCD did not make significantly more deontological judgements. Whilst imagery was found to have a relationship with moral judgements, this did not mediate the relationship between OCD and moral judgements.
Conclusions: The results suggest an association between moral judgements and OCD, not mediated by imagery
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)50-55
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders
Early online date9 Dec 2017
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2018

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