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Investigating the Efficacy of Attention Bias Modification in Reducing High Spider Fear: The Role of Individual Differences in Initial Bias

Fox, Elaine and Zougkou, Konstantina and Ashwin, Chris and Cahill, Shanna (2015) 'Investigating the Efficacy of Attention Bias Modification in Reducing High Spider Fear: The Role of Individual Differences in Initial Bias.' Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 49. pp. 84-93. ISSN 0005-7916

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Abstract

Background and objectives: Attention Bias Modification (ABM) targets attention bias (AB) towards threat and is a potential therapeutic intervention for anxiety. The current study investigated whether initial AB (towards or away from spider images) influenced the effectiveness of ABM in spider fear. Methods: AB was assessed with an attentional probe task consisting of spider and neutral images presented simultaneously followed by a probe in spider congruent or spider incongruent locations. Response time (RT) differences between spider and neutral trials > 25 ms was considered 'Bias Toward' threat. RT difference < - 25 ms was considered 'Bias Away' from threat, and a difference between 25 ms and +25 ms was considered 'No Bias'. Participants were categorized into Initial Bias groups using preABM AB scores calculated at the end of the study. 66 participants' (Bias Toward n = 27, Bias Away n = 18, No Bias n = 21) were randomly assigned to ABM-active training designed to reduce or eliminate a bias toward threat and 61 (Bias Toward n = 17, Bias Away n = 18, No Bias n = 26) to ABM-controL Results: ABM-active had the largest impact on those demonstrating an initial Bias Towards spider images in terms of changing AB and reducing Spider Fear Vulnerability, with the Bias Away group experiencing least benefit from ABM. However, all Initial Bias groups benefited equally from active ABM in a Stress Task. Limitations: Participants were high spider fearful but not formally diagnosed with a specific phobia. Therefore, results should be confirmed within a clinical population. Conclusions: Individual differences in Initial Bias may be an important determinant of ABM efficacy.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: spider phobia; spider fear; attentional bias; cognitive bias modification; attentional training; threat detection
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Faculty of Science and Health > Psychology, Department of
Depositing User: Jim Jamieson
Date Deposited: 18 May 2015 14:22
Last Modified: 02 Oct 2015 08:48
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/13797

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