Disentangling Doubt and Checking Behaviors and Examining Their Association With Obsessive Compulsive Symptoms

Asher Y. Strauss*, Isaac Fradkin, Jonathan D. Huppert

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Experiencing doubt in an uncertain situation has been theorized to be an antecedent of compulsive checking. However, whether and when obsessive compulsive (OC) symptoms are associated with experiencing doubt and increased checking is unclear. In this study, we investigated the relationship between OC symptoms, the experience of doubt, and checking in a tone-discrimination task. Doubt was measured using mouse tracking, an indirect, unobtrusive measure. The results of two studies (N = 119) showed that OC symptoms were associated with elevated experiences of doubt when uncertainty was low. However, OC symptoms were not associated with increased checking, but doubt was. Results highlight the utility of mouse-tracking measures to capture the tendency of individuals with OC symptoms to experience doubt even under neutral conditions. The unexpected null results concerning checking suggest some specific directions for research to determine the conditions under which doubt evolves into checking in obsessive compulsive disorder.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)850-865
Number of pages16
JournalClinical Psychological Science
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2021.


  • checking
  • doubt
  • mouse tracking
  • obsessive compulsive disorder
  • uncertainty


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