Investigating the efficacy of attention bias modification in reducing high spider fear: The role of individual differences in initial bias

Elaine Fox, Konstantina Zougkou, Chris Ashwin, Shanna Cahill
Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry 2015, 49 (Pt A): 84-93

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 pre-ABM 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.

Full Text Links

Find Full Text Links for this Article


You are not logged in. Sign Up or Log In to join the discussion.

Related Papers

Remove bar
Read by QxMD icon Read

Save your favorite articles in one place with a free QxMD account.


Search Tips

Use Boolean operators: AND/OR

diabetic AND foot
diabetes OR diabetic

Exclude a word using the 'minus' sign

Virchow -triad

Use Parentheses

water AND (cup OR glass)

Add an asterisk (*) at end of a word to include word stems

Neuro* will search for Neurology, Neuroscientist, Neurological, and so on

Use quotes to search for an exact phrase

"primary prevention of cancer"
(heart or cardiac or cardio*) AND arrest -"American Heart Association"