Assessing anxiety-linked impairment in attentional control without eye-tracking: The masked-target antisaccade task [PrePrint]

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Abstract

Contemporary cognitive theories of anxiety and attention processing propose that heightened levels of anxiety vulnerability are associated with a decreasing ability to inhibit the allocation of attention toward task-irrelevant information. Existing performance-based research has most often used eye-movement assessment variants of the antisaccade paradigm to demonstrate such effects. Critically however, eye-movement assessment methods are limited by expense, the need for expert training in administration, and limited mobility and scalability. These barriers have likely led to researchers using suboptimal methods of assessing the relationship between attentional control and anxiety vulnerability. The present study examined the capacity for a non-eye-movement based variant of the antisaccade task, the masked-target antisaccade task (Guitton et al., 1985), to detect anxiety-linked differences in attentional control. Participants (N = 342) completed an assessment of anxiety vulnerability and performed the masked-target antisaccade task in an online assessment session. Greater levels of anxiety vulnerability predicted poorer performance on the task, consistent with findings observed from eye-movement methods and with cognitive theories of anxiety and attention processing. Result also revealed the task to have high internal reliability. Our findings indicate the masked-target antisaccade task provides a psychometrically reliable, low-cost, mobile, and scalable assessment of anxiety-linked differences in attentional control.
Original languageEnglish
DOIs
Publication statusSubmitted - 2021

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