I look there! Attentional Bias in Individuals with High Trait Anxiety
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Universidad de Granada
DepartamentoUniversidad de Granada. Programa de Doctorado en Psicología
Boncompagni, Ilaria. I look there! Attentional Bias in Individuals with High Trait Anxiety. Granada: Universidad de Granada, 2019. [http://hdl.handle.net/10481/58282]
SponsorshipTesis Univ. Granada.
The association between high trait anxiety and attentional bias has been extensively explored (Bar-Haim et al., 2007; Van Bokstaele et al., 2014). The attentional bias is the propensity of individuals with high trait-anxiety to either direct attention towards threatrelated stimuli or the difficulty to disengage attention from them (Beck and Clarke 1997; Eysenck 1992; Mathews 1990; Mathews and MacLeod 2002; Williams et al. 1988; Bar-Haim et al. 2007). However, it is not possible to find a unique definition of attentional bias. In particular, while some studies show facilitated attentional orienting towards stimuli evaluated as threatening, other experiments observe a difficulty in disengaging attention from the emotionally relevant stimulus. The finding of different mechanisms underlying the bias could be due to some methodological choices. First of all, the choice of the experimental paradigm is particularly important. While the attentional bias evaluated through the Emotional Stroop Task provides information on the ability to resolve the conflict in response to a threatening stimulus, the Dot-Probe Task and the Emotional Spatial Cueing Task analyse the attentional orienting to emotionally relevant stimuli. Secondly, the selection of stimuli could also influence the results. In fact, according to the stimulus used (a word, a picture, or a face), the studies observe different results. Finally, another relevant factor concerns the evaluation of attentional bias in woman and men. Although anxiety is a predominantly female disorder (33.3% women; 22% men; McLean et al., 2011), few studies consider the gender. To better understand the methodological issues in this field, this dissertation aimed to compare three different stimuli (words, pictures and faces) and four paradigms (Emotional Stroop Task, Dot-Probe Task, Emotional Spatial Cueing Task and Emotional-Target Spatial Cueing Task) in men and women characterised by high vs. low trait-anxiety. A few previous studies have considered the gender difference in the assessment of attentional bias in individuals with high vs. low trait-anxiety; the analysis of gender differences in the current thesis could represent an important factor in the evaluation of attentional bias. Specifically, males and females could adopt different pattern in response to threatening stimuli, i.e. avoidance of stimulus, rapid attentional orienting toward the stimulus or difficulties in attentional disengagement from the stimulus. In the first chapter, a systematic review of the literature has tried to more clearly define the inconsistencies between the results of studies on the attentional bias in individuals with high trait-anxiety. According to the results of this systematic review, four experiments were carried out. Each experiment used different paradigms and compared different types of stimuli (pictures, words, and faces). The second chapter presents the first experiment in which an Emotional Stroop Task was administered; in the third chapter, a Dot-Probe Task was used; in the fourth chapter, an Emotional Spatial Cueing procedure was employed (an emotional-relevance paradigm); finally, in the fifth chapter, an Emotional-Target Spatial Cueing procedure was adopted (emotionalirrelevance paradigm). In all the experiments both men and women participants were invited to participate, and the gender of participants was included as a between participants factor in the analyses.