Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences



Committee Chair

Shari Steinman

Committee Member

Natalie Shook

Committee Member

Kris Martens

Committee Member

Jane Ruseski


Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental illness characterized by obsessions and compulsions that cause significant distress and/or functional impairment. Delay discounting, the decline in value of a reward with the delay of its receipt, is linked to a range of maladaptive behaviors and mental disorders. Increased delay discounting is related to obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), reflecting that compulsive behaviors that aim to counteract obsessive thoughts are viewed as uncontrollable by the sufferer. We aimed to experimentally reduce delay discounting in individuals with high levels of obsessive-compulsive symptoms through a brief mindfulness induction. Eligible participants were randomly assigned to receive either a mindfulness or thought wandering induction before completing counter-balanced monetary and handwashing delay discounting tasks and questionnaires. In Study 1, participants were adults (N = 84) who completed the study in-person pre-pandemic response from November 2019 through March 2020 in the US. In Study 2, adult participants (N = 79) completed the study online due to the pandemic from June to November 2020. The mindfulness condition did not exhibit increased state mindfulness in either sample. There were no differences in delay discounting between participants who received the mindfulness condition and those who completed the thought wandering condition in either sample. There was an order effect for the first sample such that participants who completed the handwashing delay discounting task first had increased delay discounting/more impulsive choices on that measure. We found significant relations between this handwashing delay discounting task and related obsessive-compulsive symptoms. Monetary delay discounting was not associated with OCD symptoms. Findings suggest that presentation of threat-relevant information may lead to steeper discounting. Additionally, our results provide further evidence for differential delay discounting across reward types. Our study highlights the need for threat-relevant and/or symptom specific tasks in future studies examining delay discounting in OCD.