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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.

Misophonia, also known as Selective Sound Sensitivity, is associated with strong negative emotional reactions to specific sounds (such as chewing, tapping, or certain voices). Sufferers often have a range of environmental prompts (also called triggers) that alert them to the possible aversive sounds, and these triggers are also frequently avoided. Little is known regarding this condition, but sufferers report significant interference.  Research in the lab has focused on characteristics associated with the condition, and interventions to alleviate symptoms.


Recent Publications

McKay, D., Abramowitz, J.S., & Storch, E.A. (in press). Mechanisms of harmful treatments for obsessive-compulsive disorder. Clinical Psychology: Science & Practice.
Rabasco, A., McKay, D., Washburn, J., Teachman, B., Gaudiano, B., & Davison, G. (in press). Standards for professional psychology continuing education sponsors: A comparative analysis of health service professions. Professional Psychology: Research & Practice.

Kim, S.-K., McKay, D., Goodman, W.K., Small, B., McNamara, J.P., Murphy, T.K., & Storch, E.A. (in press). Understanding anxiety and symptom impact as mediators explaining cognitive-behavioral and pharmacotherapy response in childhood obsessive-compulsive disorder. Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment.
Taylor, S., Landry, C.A., Paluszek, M.M., Fergus, T.A., McKay, D., & Asmundson, G.J.G. (2020). COVID Stress Syndrome: Concept, Structure, and Correlates. Depression & Anxiety, 37, 706-714.    

Abramovitch, A., Abramowitz, J.S., Reimann, B. & McKay, D. (2020). Severity benchmarks and contemporary clinical norms for the Obsessive-Compulsive Inventory-Revised (OCI-R). Journal of Obsessive Compulsive and Related Disorders, 27, 100557.

McKay, D., Minaya, C., & Storch, E.A. (2020). Conducting exposure and response prevention treatment for contamination fears during COVID-19: The behavioral immune system impact on clinician approaches to treatment. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 74, 102270.

McKay, D., Yang, H., Elhai, J., & Asmundson, G. (2020). Anxiety regarding contracting COVID-19 related to interoceptive anxiety sensations: The moderating role of disgust propensity and sensitivity. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 73, 102233.    

Frank, B., & McKay, D. (2019). The Suitability of an Inhibitory Learning Approach in Exposure When Habituation Fails: A Clinical Application to Misophonia. Cognitive & Behavioral Practice, 26, 130-142.  

Cepeda, S.L., McKay, D., Schneider, S.C., La Buissonniere-Ariza, V., Egberts, J.T.N.E., McIngvale, E., Goodman, W.K., & Storch, E.A. (2018). Politically focused intrusive thoughts and associated ritualistic behavior in a community sample. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 56, 35-42.