ISSN 2043-8087
Journal of Experimental Psychopathology
 Volume 4, Issue 2, 194-207, 2013
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Free Article Attentional Bias and Complicated Grief: A Primed Dot-Probe Task with Emotional Faces

Ashley B. Bullock and George A. Bonanno
Columbia University

Volume 4, Issue 2, 2013, Pages 194-207

We used a dot-probe task to examine attentional biases toward emotional stimuli among three groups: conjugally bereaved1.5-3 years post-loss with or without Complicated Grief (CG) and a sample of demographically similar married participants. Each trial was preceded by a subliminal prime of the spouse's name or the spouse's name scrambled (neutral). Only CG participants demonstrated significant attentional biases. When primed with their (deceased) spouse's name, CG participants attended away from closed-mouth sad faces, and in the neutral condition attended away from happy faces. Because over half of the CG participants also met criteria for MDD (n = 14), we repeated these analyses examining co-morbid MDD with CG. The same findings emerged for sad faces in the deceased condition and happy faces in the neutral condition. These findings extend previous research on CG, demonstrating that CG and co-morbid CG with MDD involves distinct attentional problems specifically related to grief symptomatology.

Table of Contents
 The Facial Dot-Probe Paradigm
 Depression, Anxiety, and Grief
 The Current Investigation
 Participants and Procedure
 Structured Clinical Interview
 Dot-probe Experimental Task
 Data reduction
 Bereavement Status Groups using CG
 Alternative Categorization of CG
 Bereavement Status Groups using CG and MDD

Correspondence to
Ashley Bullock, Department of Counseling & Clinical Psychology Teachers College, Columbia University, 525 West 120th Street, Box 218, New York, NY 10027

Selective attention; Attentional bias; Chronic grief; Depression; Emotion; Facial expressions

Received 21 Jun 2011; Revised 5 Oct 2012; Accepted 29 Oct 2012; In Press 12 May 2013

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