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Attentional biases in spider fear: hypervigilance and disengagement difficulty


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Nikitenko, T 2016 , 'Attentional biases in spider fear: hypervigilance and disengagement difficulty', Honours thesis, University of Tasmania.

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The aim of this study was to examine attentional biases of hypervigilance and disengagement difficulty in spider fear. Twenty-eight females between the ages of 18-36 years were grouped into high (n=14) and low (n=14) fear groups and completed a modified spatial cueing task comprising photographic cues of spiders (feared stimulus), beetles (neutral stimulus) and butterflies (positive valence stimulus). Cues were either valid (appeared on the same side as the target), or invalid (appearing on the opposite side). It was hypothesised that high fear participants would show faster reaction time and greater P1 amplitude following valid spider cues as an indicator of hypervigilance, and slower reaction times following invalid spider cues indexing disengagement difficulty. Instead, high fear participants showed greater reaction time to all targets, with this increase greater following spider cues. These findings were interpreted as interference following feared stimuli. P1 amplitude was higher overall in the high fear group, but both groups showed greater amplitude following spider cues relative to beetle and butterfly cues. Enhanced P1 amplitude in the high fear group was interpreted as increased attentional processing following feared images. This research provides preliminary support for Attentional Control Theory (ACT; Eyesenck et al., 2007) and suggests emphasis on attentional mechanisms in the treatment of spider fear.

Item Type: Thesis - Honours
Authors/Creators:Nikitenko, T
Keywords: attentional bias, spider fear, hypervigilance, disengagement difficulty, spatial cueing, ERP, P1
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Copyright 2016 the author

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