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Title: The effect of an experimental manipulation of moral self-ambivalence on obsessive-compulsive behaviour in a non-clinical population
Author: Perera-Delcourt, Ramesh
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 2012
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Objective: To investigate whether there is a causal relationship between moral self-ambivalence and obsessive-compulsive behaviours, as this relationship has previously received only correlational support. Design: The study utilised a between-groups experimental design. There were three conditions, consisting of one experimental and two control groups. Participants: A non-clinical sample was used. For the final analysis, 198 participants were recruited. Participants were recruited through the university and contacts of the principal researcher. Participants were randomly allocated to one condition and completed the study online. Procedures: Participants in the experimental condition completed two manipulation tasks designed to prime moral self-ambivalence; participants in the control conditions completed the same tasks designed to prime general uncertainty or to be neutral. All participants completed a task requiring them to present answers to moral dilemmas. The time taken to complete the moral dilemmas, and number of characters used to do so, was recorded. Statistical Analyses: Factorial, three-way ANOVAs were used to examine differences between the experimental groups. Findings: Priming moral self-ambivalence in participants high in moral self- ambivalence who were also morally 'self-sensitive' led to an increase in the time taken to respond to the moral dilemmas and the number of characters used to do so. The statistical significance of this finding varied depending on which covariates were controlled for and which groups were compared. The finding that number of characters used was higher in the experimental group was consistently significant. Conclusions: Moral self-ambivalence appears to play a causal role in obsessive-compulsive behaviour. Intrusive thoughts in individuals who are morally self-ambivalent and morally self- sensitive may prime their anxiety about themselves, leading to compulsive behaviour designed to address this anxiety. The theoretical and clinical implications of this are discussed, together with limitations of the present study and how these might be addressed in future research.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Psychol.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available