Factors Influencing the Self-Recognition of Obsessive Compulsive Tendencies


  • Jon Coates Northumbria University


ocd, ocpd, hoarding, self-recognition


Background: Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) has been associated with a significantly greater duration of untreated illness when compared to other anxiety disorders. It is proposed that the inability to identify one’s symptoms as characteristic of OCD may contribute to this duration. However, existing literature has exclusive investigated the recognition of OCD symptoms and tendencies in others. The current study is the first to investigate the self-recognition of obsessive-compulsive tendencies.

Methods: 400 participants were asked whether they thought they displayed obsessive-compulsive tendencies. Those who answered positively were shown a list of tendencies and asked to pick the ones they believed they displayed. They were then asked to complete the Obsessive-Compulsive Inventory (OCI). Participants who answered negatively were taken straight to the OCI.

Results: Of the 400 who responded, 251 provided meaningful data. A 2x2 chi-squared analysis revealed that participants who believed they displayed obsessive-compulsive tendencies were significantly more likely to score highly on the OCI X2(1, N = 251) = 49.841, p <.001. 2x2 chi-squared analyses revealed that four dimensions were associated with poor recognition: Washing X2(1, N = 147) = 11.577, p = .005; Checking X2(1, N = 147) = 2.748, p = .190; Obsessions X2(1, N = 147) = 6.806, p = .009; Neutralising X2(1, N = 147) = 4.793, p = .029. A logistic regression analysis revealed that higher scores on the checking and ordering subscales of the OCI were associated with a lower likelihood of believing oneself to display obsessive-compulsive tendencies.

Conclusions: The findings of this study suggest that participants are generally able to accurately identify whether they display obsessive-compulsive tendencies. However, participants who score highly on the washing, checking, obsession, and neutralising subscales of the OCI are no more likely to believe they display such tendencies than those score low on such subscales. Furthermore, participants who score highly on the checking and ordering subscales are less likely to believe they display obsessive-compulsive tendencies than those who score lower on such subscales. These findings highlight the need for better education surrounding the inaccurately identified dimensions of OCD, which may help reduce the duration of untreated illness.

Author Biography

Jon Coates, Northumbria University

Psychology, Health and Life Sciences




How to Cite

Coates, J. (2024). Factors Influencing the Self-Recognition of Obsessive Compulsive Tendencies. Northumbria Student Journal. Retrieved from https://journals.northumbria.ac.uk/index.php/nusj/article/view/1449