The influence of cognitive biases on psychophysiological vulnerability to stress

Randall, Kate (2012) The influence of cognitive biases on psychophysiological vulnerability to stress. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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Individuals who disproportionately attend to negative aspects of a situation (attention bias),
or who unduly interpret ambiguity in a negative manner (interpretive bias) report more
psychological ill-effects of stress than those with balanced or positively-skewed
inclinations. Cognitive Bias Modification (CBM) techniques improve maladaptive biases
through implicitly-based association learning, with induced positive biases buffering the
future perception of stress. Six experimental studies investigated the next stage of this link
to bolster and significantly enhance the clinical potential of CBM; how natural and
modified biases influence the biological response to acute stress. Studies 1-3 established
reliable protocols associated with using laboratory stress tasks and measuring salivary
stress biomarkers. Studies 4-5 investigated links between natural and trained biases on
psychological and biological stress responses. Study 6 tested the immediate robustness of
CBM training. While psychological and physiological stress responses were initiated,
attentional biases were not found to moderate acute biological stress responses.
Conversely, interpretive biases were related to the recovery from the acute stress and
positive interpretive training led to a faster biological recovery from acute stress in high
test-anxious individuals relative to sham training. However, neither bias was found to
moderate the psychological response to stress. Further, evidence emerged to caution a
more selective use of CBM. Positive interpretive training led to a more negative bias and
slower physiological recovery to stress in individuals with low trait anxiety or inherent
positive biases. From these results, information processing biases are proposed to have less
influence on genuinely stressful events but, instead, govern the extent to which
unthreatening situations are perceived as stressful. Consequently, negative biases are
hypothesised to cause unnecessary and excessive perceptions of stress, resulting in chronic
hyper-activity. Combined CBM-A/I tools are recommended to jointly realign maladaptive
biases, enabling an effective, efficient, but transitory physiological response to real stress.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > Norwich Medical School
Depositing User: Users 2259 not found.
Date Deposited: 12 Mar 2014 12:52
Last Modified: 12 Mar 2014 12:52


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