Signal detection in pathological skin picking. Findings from non – clinical sample
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Instytut Psychologii, Uniwersytet Jagielloński, Kraków
Katedra Psychologii, Uniwersytet Pedagogiczny, Kraków
Zakład Psychologii lekarskiej Katedra Psychiatrii , UJCM,Oddział Neurochirurgii Dziecięcego Szpitala Uniwersyteckiego w Krakowie
Submission date: 2013-04-24
Final revision date: 2013-06-10
Acceptance date: 2013-06-12
Publication date: 2013-09-02
Corresponding author
Katarzyna Prochwicz   

Instytut Psychologii, Uniwersytet Jagielloński, Kraków, Al. Mickiewicza 3, 31 - 120 Kraków, Poland
Arch Psych Psych 2013;15(3):5-10
Aim of the study:
The present study investigated the role of general impulsivity in pathological skin picking (PSP).

Subject or material and methods:
Three groups of participants: university students who pick their skin and experience distress and/or functional impairment caused by picking (n = 27), students who pick their skin but do not experience distress and/or functional impairment caused by picking (n = 19), and students without history of skin picking (n = 43) were administered the task based on the search for the emotionally neutral signal hidden among distractors. It was predicted that individuals suffering from PSP should present an impulsive reaction style, i.e. they should search for the signal faster than individuals without history of PSP and should react to irrelevant stimuli rather than missing the correct reaction.

Participants with severe picking performed as quickly and correctly as controls, thus not revealing an impulsive reaction pattern. Students with milder forms of picking reacted more slowly than the others gradually diminishing their performance as the task was extended.

Individuals with severe PSP symptoms are not characterized by general impulsiveness defined as a tendency to react quickly and carelessly. Skin picking behaviors of different severity may be associated with different signal detection patterns.

The results of the current study indicate that skin picking is not a homogeneous condition. They also provide that skin picking behavior in ‘severe’ pickers and non – ‘severe’ ones may have different underlying psychological mechanisms.

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