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Title: Beyond the dot-probe : investigating attention bias in social anxiety using novel techniques
Author: Willemse, Cesco
ISNI:       0000 0004 6351 0657
Awarding Body: University of East Anglia
Current Institution: University of East Anglia
Date of Award: 2016
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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 links. Taken together, this thesis extends knowledge of differential information processing in social anxiety and reveals the potential benefits of using novel techniques.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available