Cognitive Bias Modification (CBM) of obsessive compulsive beliefs

Alishia D Williams, Jessica R Grisham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


BACKGROUND: Cognitive bias modification (CBM) protocols have been developed to help establish the causal role of biased cognitive processing in maintaining psychopathology and have demonstrated therapeutic benefits in a range of disorders. The current study evaluated a cognitive bias modification training paradigm designed to target interpretation biases (CBM-I) associated with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).

METHODS: We evaluated the impact of CBM-I on measures of interpretation bias, distress, and on responses to three OC stressor tasks designed to tap the core belief domains of Importance of Thoughts/Control, Perfectionism/Intolerance of Uncertainty, and Contamination/Estimation of Threat in a selected sample of community members reporting obsessive compulsive (OC) symptoms (N = 89).

RESULTS: Participants randomly assigned to the Positive condition evidenced a change in interpretation bias towards more positive and less negative OC-relevant interpretations following CBM-I compared to participants assigned to the Control condition. Importantly, a positivity bias was not observed for foil scenarios unrelated to the core OC belief domains. Further, participants in the Positive condition reported less distress and urge to neutralize following an OC stressor task designed to tap Importance of Thoughts/Control. No significant difference emerged on the indices of behavioural response to the OC stressor tasks. Severity of OC symptoms did not moderate the effects of positive CBM-I training.

CONCLUSIONS: CBM-I appears effective in selectively targeting OC beliefs. Results need to be replicated in clinical samples in order for potential therapeutic benefit to be demonstrated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)256
JournalBMC Psychiatry
Publication statusPublished - 9 Oct 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Adult
  • Attention
  • Cognitive Therapy
  • Culture
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
  • Questionnaires
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Treatment Outcome


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