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Title: The impact of engaging in verbal versus imagery-based worry on attenuational processing
Author: Williams, Marc
Awarding Body: King's College London (University of London)
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2012
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Generalised anxiety disorder is characterised by excessive, uncontrollable, worry. The current study tested the idea that the verbal nature of worry in GAD, due to its abstract nature, might self-maintain by generating a widespread attentional bias for threat. It was hypothesised that verbal worry would generate more of an attentional bias for threat than imagery-based worry which, due to its more concrete nature, was hypothesised to produce attentional bias only for stimuli specifically relating to worry content. Verbal worry was also hypothesised to give rise to more negative intrusions than imagery-based worry. In part one of the study, high-worriers were instructed to worry in either a verbal way (the Verbal group) or an imagery-based way (the Imagery group), before completing the dot probe task as a measure of attentional bias for threat-related words. In part two, the two groups worried in the same way as before and then completed the breathing focus task as a measure of the number of negative intrusions occurring after worry. The results provided support for the hypothesis that verbal worry produces more attentional bias to threat than imagery-based worry but did not support the hypothesis that imagery-based worry would produce attentional bias to stimuli specifically relating to worry content. The two groups were not found to differ in number of negative intrusions following worry. The results are interpreted in terms of verbal worry generating a "general threat detection mechanism", and a new theory of GAD is presented that incorporates this speculated mechanism. Clinical implications of the current study’s findings are discussed and consideration is also given to possible future avenues for research.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Clin.Psy.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available