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Cognitive views on anxiety have proposed that attentional biases towards threatening information in high trait anxious individuals play an important role in the maintenance of anxiety and may even cause the development of clinical anxiety disorders. However, the precise nature of these attentional biases is under debate. In a pictorial version of the dot probe task, two accounts of attention to threat were contrasted and the components of attention involved in orienting to threat were assessed. Overall, the results support the view that all individuals orient to highly threatening pictures, with high trait anxious individuals orienting more strongly to moderately threatening pictures than the low trait anxious individuals. Attentional bias to threat in high trait anxious individuals was caused by attentional disengagement from threat. These results are discussed in relation to cognitive models of attention to threat.
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- Attention to Threat in Anxiety-prone Individuals: Mechanisms Underlying Attentional Bias
Ernst H. W. Koster
Jan De Houwer
- Kluwer Academic Publishers-Plenum Publishers