OCD-like checking in the lab: A meta-analysis and improvement of an experimental paradigm

Marcel A. van den Hout*, Eva A.M. van Dis, Clair van Woudenberg, Ilse H. van de Groep

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


Van den Hout and Kindt (2003a) developed a Virtual Gas Stove Checking paradigm. They demonstrated that repeated checking resulted in lower confidence and reduced the vividness and detail of recollections. Over the past decades, many experiments have used (an adaptation of) this experimental paradigm to study phenomena related to obsessive compulsive disorders (OCD). The first aim of the present study was to conduct a meta-analysis of experiments (k = 28; N = 1662) on the repeated checking paradigm. Repeated checking was found to have large effects on decreases in memory confidence, vividness and detail. Unexpectedly, repeated checking also produced small reductions in memory accuracy. The second aim of the present study was to develop an improved version of the checking paradigm in which 1) stimuli presentations were fully balanced; and 2) the checking latency was comparable across stimuli in order to 3) assess actual checking behavior. The improved version (Virtual checking task 2.0) replicated earlier findings on meta-memory.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-49
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors thank Roy van Kooten for the development of the improved experimental paradigm in Matlab, and Professor Ton de Jong for sharing the stimulus material from the ZAP project (http://zap.psy.utwente.nl/).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 The Authors


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