Compulsivity is measurable across distinct psychiatric symptom domains and is associated with familial risk and reward-related attentional capture

Lucy Albertella, Samuel R. Chamberlain, Mike E. Le Pelley, Lisa-Marie Greenwood, Rico S.C. Lee, Lauren Den Ouden, Rebecca A. Segrave, Jon E. Grant, Murat Yucel

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27 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND.: Compulsivity can be seen across various mental health conditions and refers to a tendency toward repetitive habitual acts that are persistent and functionally impairing. Compulsivity involves dysfunctional reward-related circuitry and is thought to be significantly heritable. Despite this, its measurement from a transdiagnostic perspective has received only scant research attention. Here we examine both the psychometric properties of a recently developed compulsivity scale, as well as its relationship with compulsive symptoms, familial risk, and reward-related attentional capture. METHODS.: Two-hundred and sixty individuals participated in the study (mean age = 36.0 [SD = 10.8] years; 60.0% male) and completed the Cambridge-Chicago Compulsivity Trait Scale (CHI-T), along with measures of psychiatric symptoms and family history thereof. Participants also completed a task designed to measure reward-related attentional capture (n = 177). RESULTS.: CHI-T total scores had a normal distribution and acceptable Cronbach's alpha (0.84). CHI-T total scores correlated significantly and positively (all p < 0.05, Bonferroni corrected) with Problematic Usage of the Internet, disordered gambling, obsessive-compulsive symptoms, alcohol misuse, and disordered eating. The scale was correlated significantly with history of addiction and obsessive-compulsive related disorders in first-degree relatives of participants and greater reward-related attentional capture. CONCLUSIONS.: These findings suggest that the CHI-T is suitable for use in online studies and constitutes a transdiagnostic marker for a range of compulsive symptoms, their familial loading, and related cognitive markers. Future work should more extensively investigate the scale in normative and clinical cohorts, and the role of value-modulated attentional capture across compulsive disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)519-526
Number of pages8
JournalCNS Spectrums
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2020


  • Addiction
  • cognition.
  • compulsive
  • marker
  • phenotype

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