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Title: Are disgust, contamination fear and health anxiety associated with desire to avoid contact with people with facial dermatological conditions?
Author: Green-Armytage, Miriam
ISNI:       0000 0004 5992 0186
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 2016
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Background: The presence of a dermatological condition may deter contact with the affected person because it falsely signals the threat of disease to others. The current study investigated whether avoidance of anticipated contact was expressed towards individuals with visible dermatological conditions, and was associated with disgust, health anxiety and contamination fear. Method: 236 participants completed an online survey. They were randomly allocated to one of three conditions where they viewed a face with the appearance of acne, psoriasis, or no visible dermatological condition. Participants rated the attractiveness of the face, and indicated their willingness for social and indirect contact with the person. Measures of disgust, health anxiety and contamination fear were completed. Results: Consistent with the prediction, participants reported significantly less willingness for indirect contact with a person with acne or psoriasis. Contrary to prediction, participants expressed more willingness for social contact with a person with acne or psoriasis compared to a person with no dermatological condition. Contrary to prediction, there was not a consistent relationship between willingness for contact and disgust, health anxiety or contamination fear. Instead, the perceived attractiveness of the person depicted in the acne and psoriasis conditions was positively correlated with willingness for social and indirect contact. Conclusion: The findings suggest that people respond differently to individuals with dermatological conditions. Reported willingness for social contact may be motivated by socially desirable responding, yet as the potential for immediate physical contagion increases, indirect contact is possibly avoided. The positive association between perceived attractiveness and increased willingness for contact with individuals with dermatological conditions substantiates appearance-related concerns reported by this population. Further research investigating observed behaviour in interactions with individuals with dermatological conditions is required to examine what underpins willingness for contact in light of the limited association between disgust, health anxiety, contamination fear, and contact.
Supervisor: Simonds, L. M. ; John, Mary Sponsor: University of Surrey
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Psych.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available