Attentional and interpretive bias manipulation: transfer of training effects between sub-types of cognitive bias

Sian Jeffery

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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Abstract

[Truncated abstract] It is well established that anxiety vulnerability is characterised by two biased patterns of selective information processing (Mathews & MacLeod, 1986; Mogg & Bradley, 1998). First anxiety is associated with an attentional bias, reflecting the selective allocation of attention to threatening stimuli in the environment (Mathews & MacLeod, 1985; MacLeod, Mathews & Tata, 1986; MacLeod & Cohen, 1993). Second anxiety is associated with an interpretive bias, reflecting a disproportionate tendency to resolve ambiguity in a threatening manner (Mogg et al., 1994). These characteristics are shown by normal individual high in trait anxiety (Mathews, Richards & Eysenck, 1989; Mogg, Bradley & Hallowell, 1994; Mathews & MacLeod, 1994), and by examining clinically anxious patients who repeatedly report elevated trait anxiety levels (MacLeod, Mathews & Tata, 1986; Mogg & Bradley, 1998). '...' Two alternative hypotheses regarding this relationship are proposed. One hypothesis is that attentional and interpretive biases are concurrent expressions of a single underlying biased selectivity mechanism that characterises anxiety vulnerability (the Common Mechanism account). In contrast, a quite different hypothesis is that attentional and interpretive biases are independent cognitive anomalies that represent separate pathways to anxiety vulnerability (the Independent Mechanisms account). The present research program was designed to empirically test the predictions that differentiate the Common Mechanism and Independent Mechanisms accounts. The general methodological approach that was adopted was to employ bias manipulation tasks from the literature that have been developed and validated to directly modify one class of processing bias (i.e. attentional bias or interpretive bias). The effect of these direct bias manipulation tasks on a measure of the same class of processing bias or the other class of processing bias was then examined. The Common Mechanism a
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Publication statusUnpublished - 2008

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