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Title: Extending the Boundaries ofInterpretive Bias Modification: Process, Content and Therapeutic Potential.
Author: Lester, Kathryn
ISNI:       0000 0001 3608 4187
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2008
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Anxiety and depression are associated with threat-related biases and distortions in interpretation and reasoning, which may constitute a vulnerability factor for these disorders. The causality of this association has been investigated using cognitive bias modification procedures where people are trained to interpret ambiguous information in a negative or more benign way. Previous research has shown that induced biases elicit congruent changes in cognitive processing and vulnerability to a stressor. This thesis delineates the boundaries of the cognitive effects of interpretive bias training and extends these boundaries through the development of a novel cognitive error bias training procedure, representing an initial step in developing a procedure capable of modifying biases in anxiety and depression. A first experiment investigated whether the cognitive effects of interpretive bias training generalised to wider tests of interpretive processing that differed in the extent to which they recapitulated the process and content conditions of bias training. Interpretation bias training produced weak, but observable effects on wider tests. However, inconsistent with a transfer appropriate processing framework, generalisation did not occur to those wider test tasks that most closely recapitulated the conditions present during training. Experiments Two-Seven determined that active generation of the meaning of ambiguous test items and a memory interval between the encoding and retrieval of any interpretations made may be necessary but not sufficient bridging processes for generalisation to occur. Experiment Eight validated that cognitive error bias training was effective in inducing negative distorted biases and benign biases characterised by fewer cognitive errors in a non-clinical sample. Benignly trained participants demonstrated an attenuated emotional response to stress compared to negatively trained participants, consistent with a causal role for reasoning and interpretive biases. Moving towards applied therapeutic benefits, an expanded benign cognitive error training procedure modified biases more benignly in a selected vulnerable sample and elicited congruent changes in emotional state and trait and cognition. However, vulnerability and approach-avoidance behaviour were not modified. Theoretical and clinical implications of these findings are discussed. This thesis highlights the importance of considering both process and content in delineating and extending the effects of bias training and argues for progressing experimental and clinical research in unison.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available