Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Traits: Compensatory Response to Executive Function Deficit?

Aycicegi-Dinn A. , Dinn W. M. , Caldwell-Harris C. L.

INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF NEUROSCIENCE, vol.119, no.4, pp.600-608, 2009 (Journal Indexed in SCI) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 119 Issue: 4
  • Publication Date: 2009
  • Doi Number: 10.1080/00207450802543783
  • Page Numbers: pp.600-608


Obsessive-compulsive personality traits (OCPTs) may be associated with cognitive disorganization (i.e., executive control deficits). That is, individuals presenting with pronounced OCPTs may rigidly adhere to rules and procedure in an attempt to compensate for cognitive disorganization. We predicted that individuals presenting with OCPTs would demonstrate cognitive disorganization during neurocognitive task performance and would display working memory deficits. To test this hypothesis, we identified a group of university students demonstrating pronounced OCPTs and a comparison group, and administered the Rey-Osterrieth Complex Figure Test (ROCFT). Self-report measures of OCPTs, classical OCD, and depressive symptoms were administered. Students presenting with pronounced OCPTs exhibited performance deficits on the ROCFT. They obtained significantly lower copy organization scores and displayed a subtle visuospatial working memory deficit. Performance deficits on a nonverbal measure of executive control and working memory were related to OCPTs, but were not associated with classic OCD symptoms. Our findings lend support to the contention that specific OCPTs may represent, at least in part, compensatory tactics that evolve in response to executive control deficits.