Dean McKay

Prof. Dean McKay - Profile PictureProfessor of Psychology

Curriculum Vitae


Rose Hill Campus: Dealy Hall, Room 422
Phone: 718-817-4498


  • 1988 BA Hofstra University Major: Psychology
  • 1990 MA Hofstra University Major: Applied Research
  • 1993 PhD Hofstra University Major: Clinical & School Psychology

Major Research Interests

My research is actively carried out through the operations of my research lab, Compulsive, Obsessive, and Anxiety Program (C.O.A.P.). There are a multitude of ongoing research projects I am actively engaged in with graduate students to investigate my research interests outlined in detail below.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
OCD is a complex and heterogeneous psychiatric condition that affects children, adolescents, and adults. It has been associated with a wide range of psychiatric disability and is generally considered difficult to treat, yet responsive to available empirically supported interventions. In generally, I have been interested in the nature and treatment of OCD, including maintaining factors, subtypes, complicating factors, assessment of severity, and general and specific cognitive factors.
This has lead to consideration of basic reconceptualization of the condition. Presently, there are several models for OCD, but none adequately accounts for the full diversity of the disorder.

Anxiety Disorders
Closely related to the work on OCD, my interest in anxiety disorders has also been concerned with maintaining factors and issues in cognitive-behavioral treatment. In particular, I have been interested in the following aspects of anxiety problems: Depersonalization: This is a common perceptual and cognitive disturbance associated with a wide range of psychiatric problems, but notably in several anxiety disorders such as panic and posttraumatic stress. Recent work has focused on methods of interventions for depersonalization. Health Anxiety: Previously health anxiety was more narrowly described as hypochondriasis. However, this fails to adequately account for cases where individuals struggle with heightened concerns over their health without a corresponding extreme belief that there is, in fact, a disease or illness present (as in hypochondriasis).

Disgust in Anxiety Disorders
Disgust is an understudied emotion. I have been actively investigating the role of disgust in phobias and contamination fear. Contamination fear is a problem that naturally fits with disgust. Disgust is a ‘communicable’ emotion, in that otherwise neutral objects have the capacity for taking on disgust properties. A common problem among individuals with contamination fear is the notion of objects becoming ‘contaminated’ following incidental contact with items believed to be contaminated as well. Disgust also plays a prominent role in other anxiety disorders and states. Most notably, research has supported a role for disgust in blood-injury-injection phobia, and in insect and small animal phobias. However, as illustrated in a recent edited text (Olatunji & McKay, 2009), disgust has been associated with a wide range of other psychiatric conditions.


Recent Publications

McKay, D., Kim, S.K., Mancusi, L., Storch, E.A., & Spankovich, C. (in press). Profile analysis of psychological symptoms associated with misophonia: A community sample. Behavior Therapy.

Ojserkis, R., McKay, D., & Lebeaut, A. (in press). Associations between mental contamination, disgust, and obsessive-compulsive symptoms in the context of trauma. Journal of Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders.

McKay, D., & Tolin, D.F. (2017). Empirically supported treatments and the Research Domain Criteria (RDoC). Journal of Affective Disorders, 216, 78-88.

McKay, D., Abramovitch, A., Abramowitz, J.S., & Deacon, B. (2017). Association and causation in brain imaging: The case of OCD. American Journal of Psychiatry, 174, 597.

Crowe, K., & McKay, D. (2017). Efficacy of cognitive-behavioral therapy for childhood anxiety and depression. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 49, 76-87.

Borda, T., Neziroglu, F., Taboas, W., & McKay, D. (2017). Overvalued Ideation in Adolescents with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Psychiatry Research, 255, 66-71.

Crowe, K., & McKay, D. (2016). Mindfulness, obsessive-compulsive symptoms, and executive dysfunction. Cognitive Therapy & Research, 40, 627-644.

Kim, S.K., McKay, D., Taylor, S., Tolin, D., Olatunji, B.O., Timpano, K., & Abramowitz, J.S. (2016). The structure of obsessive-compulsive symptoms and beliefs: A correspondence and biplot analysis.  Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 38, 79-87.

McKay, D., Ojserkis, R., & Elhai, J. (2016). Shared cognitive features of posttraumatic and obsessive-compulsive symptoms. Cognitive Therapy & Research, 40, 173-178.

Tolin, D.F., McKay, D., Forman, E.M., Klonsky, E.D., Thombs, B.D. (2015).  Empirically supported treatment: Recommendations for a new model. Clinical Psychology: Science & Practice, 22, 317-338.

For a full list of publications, please see CV.