Date of Completion
attention bias, anxiety, treatment
Field of Study
Doctor of Philosophy
Attention biases toward negative stimuli in the environment have been associated with high levels of anxiety symptoms. Adults with heightened levels of anxiety as well as anxiety disorders both evidenced this negative attentional bias. Shifting attention biases away from negative threat through attention modification training (AMT) has demonstrated decreases in emotional lability and anxiety. AMT is based on cognitive models of anxiety that posit that information-processing biases play a role in the etiology and maintenance of anxiety. Thus attention training is emerging as a potential treatment component for anxiety disorders. While studies suggest promising results for AMTs in reducing attention bias and anxiety, there remain a number of questions regarding the parameters of attention training for anxiety. This study examined a dose-response relationship for the number of training trials (high dose = 240 trials, medium dose = 160 trials, and low dose = 80 trials) in a single-session AMT that produce immediate (post-training) and long-term effects (one-week and one-month follow up) on attention biases, anxiety, mood symptoms, and information processing. Results indicated that high and medium dosages of AMT had the greatest immediate and long-term effects on shifts in attention away from negative stimuli and reductions in state anxiety. Findings from the current study add to the parameters of AMT in the amelioration of anxiety and establish the extent of training required for optimal outcome. Implications for understanding attention training on anxiety and information processing biases are further discussed, including the more specific implications of AMT for cognitive behavioral treatments.
Domingues, Janine, "Attention Shifts and Anxiety Change: A Dose-Response Relationship" (2013). Doctoral Dissertations. 184.