ISSN 2043-8087
Journal of Experimental Psychopathology
 Volume 6, Issue 4, 343-355, 2015
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The Causal Role of Attentional Bias in a Cognitive Component of Depression

  Rebecca McDermott - University of Western Ontario
  David Dozois - University of Western Ontario

Volume 6, Issue 4, 2015, Pages 343-355

Cognitive theories have, for years, postulated the causal role of attentional biases in depression and low self-esteem. However, this assumption has been based predominantly on correlational findings. With the advent of attentional bias modification techniques (Mathews & MacLeod, 2002), it became possible to modify attentional bias experimentally. The purpose of this study was to ascertain whether negative attentional biases are trainable and causally linked to changes in important characteristics of depression, namely self-esteem. Participants completed negative attentional training and a stress induction task. Consistent with the diathesis-stress model, a combination of negative attentional biases and stress resulted in changes in self-esteem, which was used as an indicator of depression. The effects on self-esteem were specific to the type of stimuli used. These findings have important implications for our understanding of self-esteem, cognitive models of depression, and for the future of cognitive bias modification research in self-esteem and depression.

Table of Contents
  Beck Depression Inventory – II (BDI-II).
  Positive and Negative Affect Scale (PANAS).
  State Self-Esteem Scale (SSES).
  Name Letter Task (NLT).
  Facial Stimuli.
  Dot-probe task.
  Anagram Stimuli.
  Anagram Task.
 Participant Characteristics.
 Attentional Bias Training.
 Self-Esteem Subscales.

Correspondence to
David J. A. Dozois, Ph.D., C.Psych. Professor and Director, Clinical Psychology Graduate Program, Department of Psychology, The University of Western Ontario, Westminster Hall, Rm. 313E, London, Ontario, CANADA. N6A 3K7.

self-esteem, attentional bias, attentional training, depression, stress reactivity

Received 14 Feb 2014; Revised 18 May 2015; Accepted 19 May 2015; In Press 30 Dec 2015

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