Beyond the dot-probe: investigating attention bias in social anxiety using novel techniques

Willemse, Cesco (2016) Beyond the dot-probe: investigating attention bias in social anxiety using novel techniques. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

[thumbnail of CWillemse_PhD_Thesis.pdf]
Download (3MB) | Preview


The focus of this thesis is on attentional biases for emotional faces within trait
social anxiety. There are two central aims. Firstly, to provide a theoretical expansion
of what is known about attentional biases in social anxiety, especially regarding the
theorised bias-components of facilitated attention toward threat, delayed
disengagement away from threat, and attentional avoidance of threat. The second aim
is to provide an experimental expansion by exploring paradigms that are relatively
novel to the field, by using a mixed-method approach across four studies.
The first study presents adaptations of the attentional blink task. Between
these tasks, processing stages and task-relevance of the emotional faces are
manipulated. The second study investigates whether a child-version of the attentional
blink task can be used to investigate attention bias in child social anxiety. Study three
means to disentangle bias components by measuring eye-movements using a saccadic
curvature paradigm and study four explores if anxiety-related sustained attention
toward different emotions is reflected in neural activation with a steady-state visual
evoked potential paradigm.
Ultimately, the findings and the existing literature are brought together under
three themes. The first two map onto the thesis aims. Under the theme of components
of attention bias, mixed support for facilitated attention, delayed disengagement and
attentional avoidance in social anxiety is offered. The second theme evaluates that,
with suggested adjustments, the presented novel techniques have the potential to
explore attention bias in social anxiety. The third theme stems from the findings and
focuses on how task-relevance of emotion might moderate social anxiety-attention
Taken together, this thesis extends knowledge of differential information
processing in social anxiety and reveals the potential benefits of using novel

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Social Sciences > School of Psychology
Depositing User: Jackie Webb
Date Deposited: 28 Jun 2017 14:25
Last Modified: 28 Jun 2017 14:25


Downloads per month over past year

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item