Skip to main content Accessibility help

Emotional Processing and Personality as Predictors of Obsessive-compulsive Symptoms in College Students

  • Daniel Calero Vivas (a1), Elena Felipe-Castaño (a1) and Benito León (a1)


The categorical definition of obsessive-compulsive disorder, and exclusive focus on thoughts and behaviors, have constrained the study and treatment of its symptoms. The present study’s aim was to search for relationships among emotional processing dimensions, five major personality dimensions, and self-perceived obsessive-compulsive symptoms. The participants were 100 college students, and the questionnaires used were a selection of images from the International Affective Picture System (IAPS), the Self-assessment Manikin (SAM), the Dimensional Obsessive-Compulsive Scale (DOCS), and the NEO-FFI. We found differences in emotional processing dimensions between participants with high and low DOCS scores, grouped according to sex (d = .56); and evidence that the neuroticism and agreeableness dimensions predict self-perceived obsessive-compulsive symptoms. Emotional processing dimensions and personality are considered useful to comprehending obsessive-compulsive symptoms, which lends support to dimensional models of OC symptomatology, as well as planning and developing psychological interventions.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Emotional Processing and Personality as Predictors of Obsessive-compulsive Symptoms in College Students
      Available formats

      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Emotional Processing and Personality as Predictors of Obsessive-compulsive Symptoms in College Students
      Available formats

      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Emotional Processing and Personality as Predictors of Obsessive-compulsive Symptoms in College Students
      Available formats


Corresponding author

*Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Elena Felipe-Castaño. Universidad de Extremadura. Departamento de Psicología y Antropología. Avenida de la Universidad, S/N. 10003 Cáceres (Spain). E-mail:


Hide All
How to cite this article:

Calero Vivas, D., Felipe-Castaño, E., & León, B. (2019). Emotional processing and personality as predictors of obsessive-compulsive symptoms in college students. The Spanish Journal of Psychology, 22. e32. Doi:10.1017/sjp.2019.31



Hide All
Abramowitz, J. S., Deacon, B. J., Olatunji, B. O., Wheaton, M. G., Berman, N. C., Losardo, D. T. K. R., … Hale, L. R. (2010). Assessment of obsessive-compulsive symptom dimensions: Development and evaluation of the Dimensional Obsessive-Compulsive Scale. Psychological Assessment, 22, 180198.
Alonso, P., Menchón, J. M., Jiménez, S., Segalas, J., Mataix-Cols, D., Jaurrieta, N., … Pujol, J. (2008). Personality dimensions in obsessive-compulsive disorder: Relation to clinical variables. Psychiatry Research, 15, 159168.
Berle, D., & Phillips, E. S. (2006). Disgust and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: An update. Psychiatry: Interpersonal and Biological Processes, 69(3), 228238.
Bradley, M. M., & Lang, P. J. (1994). Measuring emotion: The Self-Assessment Manikin and the semantic differential. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 25(1), 4959.
Buhlmann, U., Wacker, R., & Dziobek, I. (2015). Inferring other people’s states of mind: Comparison across social anxiety, body dysmorphic, and obsessive-compulsive disorders. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 34, 107113.
Casado, Y., Cobos, P., Godoy, A., Machado-Pinheiro, W., & Vila, J. (2011). Emotional processing in obsessive-compulsive disorder. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 25, 10681071.
Cisler, J. M., Brady, R. E., Olatunji, B. O., & Lohr, J. M. (2010). Disgust and obsessive beliefs in contamination-related OCD. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 34(5), 439448.
Cisler, J. M., Olatunji, B. O., & Lohr, J. M. (2009). Disgust, fear, and the anxiety disorders: A critical review. Clinical Psychology Review, 29(1), 3446.
Costa, P. T., & McCrae, R. R. (1992). Revised NEO Personality Inventory (NEO-PI-R) and NEO Five-Factor Inventory (NEO-FFI) professional manual. Odessa, FL: Psychological Assessment Resources.
Daros, A. R., Zakzanis, K. K., & Rector, N. A. (2014). A quantitative analysis of facial emotion recognition in obsessive-compulsive disorder. Psychiatry Research, 215, 514521.
Decety, J., & Moriguchi, Y. (2007). The empathic brain and its dysfunction in psychiatric populations: Implications for intervention across different clinical conditions. BioPsychosocial Medicine, 1, 22.
First, M. B., Spitzer, R. L., Gibbon, M., & Williams, J. B. (1999). Entrevista Clínica Estructurada para los Trastornos del Eje I del DSM–IV, versión clínica (SCID–I VC) [Structured Clinical Interview for DSM–IV Axis I Disorders, clinical version (SCID–I CV]. Barcelona, Spain: Masson.
Fontenelle, L. F., Soares, I. D., Miele, F., Borges, M. C., Prazeres, A. M., Rangé, B. P., & Moll, J. (2009). Empathy and symptoms dimensions of patients with obsessive-compulsive disorders. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 43, 455463.
Fullana, M. A., López-Sola, C., & Pertusa, A. (2010). Translation and adaptation to Spanish of the Dimensional Obsessive-Compulsive Scale (DOCS) . Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina.
Fullana, M. A., Mataix-Cols, D., Caspi, A., Harrington, H., Grisham, J. R., Moffitt, T. E., & Poulton, R. (2009). Obsessions and compulsions in the community: Prevalence, interference, help-seeking, developmental stability, and co-occurring psychiatric conditions. The American Journal of Psychiatry, 166, 329336.
Fullana, M. A., Tortella-Feliu, M., Caseras, X., Andión, O., Torrubia, R., & Mataix-Cols, D. (2005). Psychometric properties of the Spanish version of the Obsessive-Compulsive Inventory-Revised in a non-clinical sample. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 19, 893903.
Gibbs, N. A. (1996). Nonclinical populations in research on obsessive-compulsive disorder: A critical review. Clinical Psychology Review, 16, 729773.
Herrero, R., Castilla, D., Vizcaíno, Y., Molinari, G., García-Palacios, A., & Botella, C. (2013). Avances en el tratamiento psicológico de la fibromialgia: El uso de la realidad virtual para la inducción de emociones positivas y la promoción de la activación comportamental. Un estudio piloto [Advances in the psychological treatment of fibromyalgia: The use of virtual reality to induce positive emotions and promote activity pacing. A pilot study]. Revista Argentina de Clínica Psicológica, XXII, 111120.
Hopwood, C. J., Quigley, B. D., Grilo, C. M., Sanislow, C. A., McGlashan, T. H., Yen, S., , L. C. (2008). Personality traits and mental health treatment utilization. Personality and Mental Health, 2, 207217.
Inchausti, F., Delgado, A. R., & Prieto, G. (2015). Obsessive-compulsive disorder and its relationship with disgust vulnerability and conscientiousness. Psicothema, 27(3), 254260.
Kyrios, M., Hordern, C., & Fassnacht, D. B. (2015). Predictors of response to cognitive behavior therapy for obsessive-compulsive disorder. International Journal of Clinical and Health Psychology 1, 15, 181190.
Lang, P. J. (1995). The emotional probe. Studies of motivation and attention. American Psychologist, 50(5), 372385.
Lang, P. J., Bradley, M. M., & Cuthbert, B. N. (2008). International affective picture system (IAPS): Affective ratings of pictures and instruction manual. Technical report A–8. Gainesville, FL: University of Florida.
Lang, P. J., Greenwald, M. K., Bradley, M. M., & Hamm, A. O. (1993). Looking at pictures: Affective, facial, visceral, and behavioral reactions. Psychophysiology, 30, 261273.
Lithari, C., Frantzidis, C. A., Papadelis, C., Vivas, A. B., Klados, M. A., Kourtidou-Papadeli, C., … Bamidis, P. D. (2010). Are females more responsive to emotional stimuli? A neurophysiological study across arousal and valence dimensions. Brain Topography, 23, 2740.
López-Solá, C., Gutiérrez, F., Pino, A., Rosado, S., Taberner, J., Segalàs, C., … Fullana, M. A. (2014). Spanish version of the Dimensional Obsessive-Compulsive Scale (DOCS): Psychometric properties and relation to obsessive beliefs. Comprehensive Psychiatry, 55, 206214.
MacDonald, B., & Davey, G. C. (2005). Inflated responsibility and perseverative checking: The effect of negative mood. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 114, 176182.
Magnavita, J. J. (2006). The centrality of emotion in unifying and accelerating psychotherapy. Journal of Clinical Psychology: In Session, 62, 585596.
Malouff, J. M., Thorsteinsson, E. B., & Schutte, N. S. (2005). The relationship between the Five-Factor Model of personality and symptoms of clinical disorders: A meta-analysis. Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, 27, 101114.
Mancini, F., & Gangemi, A. (2015). Deontological guilt and obsessive compulsive disorder. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 49, 157163.
Moltó, J. Segarra, P., López, R., Esteller, À., Fonfría, A., Pastor, M. C., & Poy, R. (2013). Adaptación española del “International Affective Pictures System” (IAPS). Tercera parte [Spanish adaptation of the “International Affective Picture System” (IAPS). Third part]. Anales de Psicología, 29(3), 965984.
Moltó, J., Montañés, S., Poy, R., Segarra, P., Pastor, M. C., Irún, M. P., & Vila, J. (1999). Un nuevo método para el estudio experimental de las emociones: El International Affective Picture System (IAPS). Adaptación española [A new method for the experimental study of emotions: The International Affective Picture System (IAPS). Spanish adaptation]. Revista de Psicología General y Aplicada, 52(1), 5587.
Montagne, B., de Geus, F., Kessels, R. P. C., Denys, D., de Haan, E. H. F., & Westenberg, H. G. M. (2008). Perception of facial expressions in obsessive-compulsive disorder: A dimensional approach. European Journal of Psychiatry, 23, 2628.
Rector, N. A., Hood, K., Richter, M. A., & Bagby, R. M. (2002). Obsessive-compulsive disorder and the five-factor model of personality: Distinction and overlap with major depressive disorder. Behavioral Research and Therapy, 40, 12051219.
Rhèaume, J., Ladouceur, R., & Freeston, M. H. (2000). The prediction of obsessive-compulsive tendencies: Does perfectionism play a significant role? Personality and Individual Differences, 28, 583592.
Roncero, M., Fornés, G., García-Soriano, G., & Belloch, A. (2014). Modelo de personalidad HEXACO: Relaciones con psicopatología emocional en una muestra española [The HEXACO model of personality: Relationships with emotional psychopathology in a Spanish sample]. Revista de Psicopatología y Psicología Clínica, 19(1), 114.
Sachs-Ericksson, N., & Ciarlo, J. A. (2000). Gender, social roles, and mental health: An epidemiological perspective. Sex Roles, 43, 605628.
Vila, J., Sánchez, M., Ramírez, I., Fernández, M. C., Cobos, P., Rodríguez, S., … Moltó, J. (2001). El Sistema Internacional de Imágenes Afectivas (IAPS): Adaptación española. Segunda parte [The International Affective Picture System (IAPS): Spanish adaptation. Second part]. Revista de Psicología General y Aplicada, 54, 635657.
Watson, D. (1999). Dimensions underlying the anxiety disorders: A hierarchical perspective. Current Opinion in Psychiatry, 12, 181186.
Watson, D., Clark, L. A., & Carey, G. (1988). Positive and negative affectivity and their relation to anxiety and depressive disorders. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 97(3), 346353.



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed