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21-12-2019 | Original Article

Contextual Changes Influence Attention Flexibility Towards New Goals

Auteurs: Malvika Godara, Alvaro Sanchez-Lopez, Baptist Liefooghe, Rudi De Raedt

Gepubliceerd in: Cognitive Therapy and Research | Uitgave 2/2020

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Abstract

The ability to flexibly process affective information underlies resilient adaptation to changing situations. However, the impact of social contextual changes on affective flexibility has not been examined yet, although this may be crucial to understand how attention operates when changing situations require allocation of different emotional goals. In a novel eye-tracking task, participants had to deploy the goals to attend to positive or negative facial expressions based on contextual cues. We found that dysphorics, compared to non-dysphorics, were faster in switching to negative goals, but slower in switching to positive goals, when the context remained constant. However, when the context changed, dysphorics showed an even faster switch to negative goals, while non-dysphorics became more adept at switching towards positive goals. These results suggest that contextual changes exacerbate the negativity and positivity biases exhibited by dysphoric and non-dysphoric individuals, respectively. The study provides evidence for the key role played by contextual changes in guiding attention allocation and thereby emotion regulation processes. These findings provide preliminary evidence for the role of contextual inflexibility in dysphoria. Results need to be replicated in a clinical sample to further clarify the role of inflexibility over the course of depression.
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Voetnoten
1
No data was collected related to the ethnicity/culture, measure of income, education, or socioeconomic status of the participants.
 
2
We analyzed data from the post-task knowledge-check procedure to establish that activation of goals by contextual cues during the main task were adequate. Analyses revealed that the overall recall of contextual cues for all participants was 97.8%, i.e. out of the 408 instances of goal information recall (8 context-goal combinations recalled by 51 participants), there were only 9 instances where a participant did not recall the goal information correctly. This confirms that participants largely retained the context-goal associations correctly during the performance of the main task.
 
3
As part of the questionnaires package, the participants were administered the following: Mood and Anxiety Symptoms Questionnaire-Dutch (MASQ-D; Wardenaar et al. 2010), Beck Depression Inventory (Van der Does 2002), and Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale (Connor and Davidson 2003). However, only the scores from Anhedonic Depression scale of MASQ-D were used for the purposes of the current study.
 
4
Previous eye-tracking studies have used similar number of trials (Caseras et al. 2007; Ellis et al. 2011; Leyman et al. 2011; Peña-Esparza 2011; Schofield et al. 2012).
 
5
The Cronbach’s alpha for attentional variables of the 8 attention switching conditions was: repeat context–repeat goal (look to positive) α = .95, repeat context–repeat goal (look to negative) α = .94, repeat context–switch goal (look to positive) α = .94, repeat context–switch goal (look to negative) α = .95, switch context–repeat goal (look to positive) α = .97, switch context–repeat goal (look to negative) α = .94, switch context–switch goal (look to positive) α = .96, and switch context–switch goal (look to negative) α = .97.
 
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Metagegevens
Titel
Contextual Changes Influence Attention Flexibility Towards New Goals
Auteurs
Malvika Godara
Alvaro Sanchez-Lopez
Baptist Liefooghe
Rudi De Raedt
Publicatiedatum
21-12-2019
Uitgeverij
Springer US
Gepubliceerd in
Cognitive Therapy and Research / Uitgave 2/2020
Print ISSN: 0147-5916
Elektronisch ISSN: 1573-2819
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/s10608-019-10072-5

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