JOURNAL ARTICLE
RANDOMIZED CONTROLLED TRIAL

Does attention redirection contribute to the effectiveness of attention bias modification on social anxiety?

Nisha Yao, Hongyu Yu, Mingyi Qian, Songwei Li
Journal of Anxiety Disorders 2015, 36: 52-62
26426451
Attention bias modification (ABM) is designed to modify threat-related attention bias and thus alleviate anxiety. The current research examined whether consistently directing attention towards targeted goals per se contributes to ABM efficacy. We randomly assigned 68 non-clinical college students with elevated social anxiety to non-valence-specific attend-to-geometrics (AGC), attention modification (AMC), or attention control (ACC) conditions. We assessed subjective, behavioral, and physiological reactivity to a speech task and self-reported social anxiety symptoms. After training, participants in the AMC exhibited an attention avoidance from threat, and those in the AGC responded more rapidly toward targeted geometrics. There was a significant pre- to post-reduction in subjective speech distress across groups, but behavioral and physiological reactivity to speech, as well as self-report social anxiety symptoms, remained unchanged. These results lead to questions concerning effectiveness of ABM training for reducing social anxiety. Further examination of the current ABM protocol is required.

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