Publication Date

2012-11-19

Availability

Open access

Embargo Period

2012-11-19

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Psychology (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense

2012-10-22

First Committee Member

Jutta Joormann

Second Committee Member

Kiara Timpano

Third Committee Member

Edward Rappaport

Abstract

Previous studies have proposed that biased attention for emotional stimuli is related to subsequent emotional responsivity and research has found that the preference, or bias, to attend to specific emotional stimuli is often associated with heightened, or attenuated, emotional reactivity. Yet, it remains unclear whether attention causally contributes to emotional responding. As such, recent research has begun to examine these relations by manipulating attentional biases with the use of attention training tasks. The current investigation looked to add to the extant body of literature by systematically examining the impact of two attention training paradigms (train towards negative stimuli and train towards positive stimuli) on subsequent patterns of attention, emotional responsivity, and biased interpretation of ambiguous stimuli within an unselected sample of undergraduates. Additionally, the project explored the moderating role of individual difference variables, including psychological symptoms and emotion regulation strategies, in the relation between the attention training tasks and participants’ subsequent emotional responding. With the exception of an induced interpretation bias among participants trained to attend to positive stimuli, results revealed few effects of the attention training tasks. Potential theoretical explanations are discussed alongside methodological points of interest to promote further understanding of the relations among attention training, cognition, and emotion.

Keywords

Attentional Bias; Emotional Reactivity; Cognitive Bias Modification; Depression; Anxiety; Emotion Regulation

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