University of Tasmania
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Attention bias in social anxiety : are there mitigating effects of self-affirmation?

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posted on 2023-05-27, 09:44 authored by McCarthy, SL
A number of studies have indicated that Self-Affirmation (SA) manipulation plays a role in decreasing an attention bias toward threatening information, especially when there is a threat to the self. Despite this, to date no studies have investigated if SA can mitigate the attention bias toward socially threatening stimuli that is exhibited in individuals high in social anxiety. The aim of the current study is to explore the possible moderating effects of SA manipulation on the attention bias in individuals with high social anxiety. 150 participants completed the study, 8 of which were excluded based upon poor accuracy on the emotional Stroop task. This left a sample of data from 142 participants (aged 18-71 years, M=26.66, SD=l0.94). Participants were required to complete a number of measures online, including the Brief Fear of Negative Evaluation Scale (Leary,1983) and the Beck Depression Inventory- 2nd edition (Beck, Steer & Brown, 1996) as well as undergo a SA manipulation or control condition similar to that used in previous SA studies (Armitage, Harris and Arden, 2011). The independent variables were social anxiety group (high, low) and experimental condition (SA manipulation, control). The dependent variable was emotional interference score as identified by latency times to identify print colour for social threat and control words presented in an emotional Stroop task. A 2 by 2 (Social anxiety: high, low; experimental condition: SA, control; covariate: depression score) ANCOV A was run on the data and revealed no significant main effects for social anxiety group or experimental condition (p>.05). The social anxiety group x experimental condition interaction was also not significant (p>.05). Unfortunately, the aim of the study could not be tested due to no significant differences in emotional interference scores between those high and low in social anxiety. This raises questions about the presence of an attention bias toward socially threatening words by individuals high in social anxiety in an online environment.


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