ISSN 2043-8087
Journal of Experimental Psychopathology
 Volume 3, Issue 2, 158-167, 2012
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Free Article Choking Under Pressure: Degrading Flashforwards Related To Performance Anxiety

Iris M. Engelhard, Marit Sijbrandij, Marcel A. van den Hout, Natalie M. Rutherford, Haza F. Rahim and Fatma Kocak
Clinical and Health Psychology, Utrecht University

Volume 3, Issue 2, 2012, Pages 158-167

Intrusive vivid images of future catastrophe ("flashforwards") are important in social fears, like performance anxiety. Previous studies in healthy volunteers found that eye movements reduce vividness and emotionality of negative mental images of past events and future-oriented events. This study tested whether eye movements reduce image vividness and emotionality in students with performance anxiety. Participants (N = 29) imagined two feared future events related to performance anxiety during six 24 s blocks per image: one image was accompanied by eye movements, the other was not. Image vividness and emotionality were assessed before and after these blocks. Relative to the eyes stationary condition, eye movements resulted in a significant decrease in image vividness, and a trend was observed for reduced emotionality. The findings add to earlier experimental findings on the benefits of dual-tasks during mental imagery, and suggest that eye movements and related procedures may be helpful in the treatment of performance anxiety.

Table of Contents
 Participants and procedure
 Mental imagery experiment

Correspondence to
Iris Engelhard, Clinical and Health Psychology, Utrecht University, PO Box 80140, 3508 TC Utrecht. The Netherlands.

intrusive images; eye movements; EMDR; working memory; performance anxiety, social phobia

Received 9 Mar 2011; Revised 13 Sep 2011; Accepted 16 Sep 2011; In Press 23 Apr 2012

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