Cognitive theories hold that biased attention to threat plays a prominent role in the development and maintenance of anxiety disorders. In support of this view, attention training has been shown to affect emotional reactivity. An important limitation of most attention training studies is that they almost exclusively rely on self-report measures to assess changes in fear. In the present study, we trained attention towards or away from spiders. We assessed not only self-reported spider fear, but also implicit spider associations, physiological, and behavioural measures of spider fear. Although we successfully changed the attentional processing of spiders, attention training had no effect on any of the outcome variables. These results indicate that changes in attentional bias are not necessarily associated with changes in fear, suggesting that attention training may be unsuitable as a clinical intervention for spider fear.

Additional Metadata
Keywords Cognitive bias modification, Implicit associations, Heart rate, Skin conductance, Spider fear
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jbtep.2010.12.004, hdl.handle.net/1765/122697
Journal Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry: a journal of experimental psychopathology
Citation
Van Bockstaele, B., Verschuere, B, Koster, E., Tibboel, H.F., Houwer, J, & Crombez, G. (2011). Effect of attention training on self-reported, implicit, physiological and behavioural measures of spider fear. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry: a journal of experimental psychopathology. doi:10.1016/j.jbtep.2010.12.004