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Open Access Research article

Domains of disgust sensitivity: revisited factor structure of the questionnaire for the assessment of disgust sensitivity (QADS) in a cross-sectional, representative german survey

Katja Petrowski1*, Sören Paul1, Gabriele Schmutzer2, Marcus Roth3, Elmar Brähler2 and Cornelia Albani2

Author Affiliations

1 Dresden University of Technology, Department of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatic Medicine, Fetscherstrasse 74, D-01307 Dresden, Germany

2 University of Leipzig, Department of Medical Psychology and Medical Sociology, Philipp-Rosenthal-Strasse 55, D-04103 Leipzig, Germany

3 University of Leipzig, Department of Psychology II, Seeburgstrasse 14-20, D-04103 Leipzig, Germany

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BMC Medical Research Methodology 2010, 10:95  doi:10.1186/1471-2288-10-95

Published: 20 October 2010



Disgust sensitivity is defined as a predisposition to experiencing disgust, which can be measured on the basis of the Disgust Scale and its German version, the Questionnaire for the Assessment of Disgust Sensitivity (QADS). In various studies, different factor structures were reported for either instrument. The differences may most likely be due to the selected factor analysis estimation methods and the small non-representative samples. Consequently, the aims of this study were to explore and confirm a theory-driven and statistically coherent QADS factor structure in a large representative sample and to present its standard values.


The QADS was answered by N = 2473 healthy subjects. The respective households and participants were selected using the random-route sampling method. Afterwards, the collected sample was compared to the information from the Federal Statistical Office to ensure that it was representative for the German residential population. With these data, an exploratory Promax-rotated Principal Axis Factor Analysis as well as comparative confirmatory factor analyses with robust Maximum Likelihood estimations were computed. Any possible socio-demographic influences were quantified as effect sizes.


The data-driven and theoretically sound solution with the three highly interrelated factors Animal Reminder Disgust, Core Disgust, and Contamination Disgust led to a moderate model fit. All QADS scales had very good reliabilities (Cronbach's alpha) from .90 to .95. There were no age-differences found among the participants, however, the female participants showed remarkably higher disgust ratings.


Based on the representative sample, the QADS factor structure was revised. Gender-specific standard percentages permit a population-based assessment of individual disgust sensitivity. The differences of the original QADS, the new solution, and the Disgust Scale - Revised will be discussed.