Background and objectives: Safety behaviors, defined as engagement in avoidance within safe environments, are a key symptom of obsessive-compulsive and related disorders. They may interfere with daily functioning and as such their emission should be reduced. The purpose of the current study is to investigate the effects of the non- contingent presentation of safety signals (cues produced by safety behaviors) on reducing safety behaviors in participants self-reporting low and high OCD profiles.
Methods: In total, 32 participants were asked to play a game to gain points and avoid their loss. After having developed avoidance behavior, evidenced by maintaining all of their earned points, they were exposed to safe environments where no point loss was programmed. In Test 1, safety cues (blue bar) were produced contingent on performing safety behaviors. In Test 2, safety cues were presented continuously without any response re- quirement.
Results: Findings demonstrated that high OCD group displayed higher rates of safety behaviors than low OCD group. However, exposure to the non-contingent presentation of safety signals eliminated their emission in both groups.
Limitations: Future studies need to evaluate the effects of different non-contingent schedules on the suppression of safety behaviors.
Conclusions: These findings contribute to the literature by demonstrating that non-contingent introduction of safety signals eliminated safety behaviors completely, even in high OCD participants, who performed safety behavior at higher rates. Such a treatment protocol may ameliorate exposure therapy in which response pre- vention constitutes a key element and is generally associated with increased drop-out rates.
Original languageEnglish
Article number56
Pages (from-to)100-1006
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry
Early online date27 Dec 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2018

    Research areas

  • non-contingent presentation, Safety signals, Safety behaviors, exposure therapy, obsessive-compulsive disorders

ID: 1823394