Attentional bias variability and its association with psychological and health symptoms: A meta-analysis

Jemma Todd, Emily Wilson, Daelin Coutts-Bain, Patrick J.F. Clarke

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


The present meta-analysis sought to assess the association between an emerging neurocognitive marker of psychopathology in attentional bias variability (ABV) and key psychological and health outcomes. A comprehensive literature review yielded 53 studies in 43 manuscripts (N = 5428). Overall, clinical and sub-clinical samples exhibited greater ABV than control samples (g = 0.462). Trauma samples showed significantly greater ABV than control samples (g = 0.782, medium-large effect), whereas social anxiety samples did not (g = 0.147). Similarly, ABV was associated with degree of trauma symptoms (r = 0.21 − 0.25). ABV was associated with some symptoms of depression and anxiety, although these were small and inconsistent. These findings suggest a specific relationship between ABV and post-traumatic stress symptoms, with evidence equivocal for other psychological difficulties (although also less research). Key recommendations for future research include investigating mechanisms underlying ABV and the importance of controlling for non-attentional processes, such as reaction time variability, to ensure the validity of ABV measures.
Original languageEnglish
Article number104812
JournalNeuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2022


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