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11-09-2020 | Original Article | Uitgave 2/2021

Cognitive Therapy and Research 2/2021

Online Intervention Reduces Hostile Attribution Bias, Anger, Aggressive Driving, and Cyber-Aggression, Results of Two Randomized Trials

Cognitive Therapy and Research > Uitgave 2/2021
Jeffrey M. Osgood, Sue E. Kase, Erin G. Zaroukian, Phillip J. Quartana
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Disclaimer Material has been reviewed by the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research. There is no objection to its presentation and/or publication. The opinions or assertions contained herein are the private views of the author, and are not to be construed as official, or as reflecting true views of the Department of the Army or the Department of Defense.

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Anger and aggression often result from attributing hostile intent to the ambiguous actions of other people.


Two online double-blind parallel randomized pilot studies with healthy adult volunteers tested a novel online cognitive intervention called Hostile Bias Modification Training (HBMT). We hypothesized HBMT would reduce hostile attribution bias, anger, and aggression. In study one, 180 volunteers were randomized to one of three versions of HBMT (active, alternative, and placebo). In study two, 217 volunteers were randomized to either active or placebo HBMT and returned 24–96 h later to complete measures of hostile attribution bias, anger, and aggression.


In study one, volunteers who completed active HBMT (vs. placebo) subsequently interpreted hypothetical vignettes as significantly less hostile (d = 0.64, p = .006) and reported significantly less imagined anger (d = 0.51, p = .006) and aggression (d = 0.73, p < .001). In study two, active HBMT (vs. placebo) was associated with reduced hostile attribution bias (\({\upeta }_{p}^{2}\) = .089, p < .001), less aggressive driving (\({\upeta }_{p}^{2}\) = .039, p = .027), and lower likelihood of cyber-aggression (OR 0.56, p = .004) 24–96 h after intervention.


These results suggest HBMT may be an easily implemented intervention to improve anger-related outcomes. No harms to volunteers were observed. This trial was registered at NCT04015440 on July 11 2019.

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