Examination of the effect of attention training for faces on stress response in individuals with social anxiety
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Information processing models of social anxiety disorder hypothesize that attentional bias for negative stimuli may contribute to this disorder (e.g., Mogg & Bradley, 1998; Williams, Watts, MacLeod, & Mathews, 1997). In support of this, researchers have shown that training the attention of high trait anxious individuals towards threat words results in an increase in state anxiety under stress (MacLeod, Rutherford, Campbell, Ebsworthy, & Holker, 2002). The current study examined the effect of attention training to threat faces (“Attend Threat) and neutral faces (“Attend Neutral) in socially anxious individuals. Additionally, the effects of attention training were compared to a non-training condition (“Random). To this end, socially anxious individuals were randomly assigned to one of these three conditions. It was hypothesized that participants in the Attend Threat condition would report the highest level of state anxiety after the speech task compared to participants in the other conditions. Contrary to the hypothesis, participants in the Random condition reported the highest level of state anxiety compared to those in the Attend Threat condition and to a lesser degree to those in the Attend Neutral condition.