Does modified interpretation bias influence automatic avoidance behaviour?

W.-G. Lange, E. Salemink, I. Windey, G.P.J. Keijsers, J. Krans, E.S. Becker, M. Rinck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Cognitive bias modification (CBM) studies suggest a causal role of interpretation biases in the aetiology and maintenance of Social Anxiety Disorder. However, it is unknown if the effects of induced biases transfer to behaviour. In two analogue studies, behavioural changes in response to aversive and positive stimuli were measured after the induction of positive and negative interpretation biases in ‘averagely anxious’ participants. Responses to emotional multi-facial displays (‘crowds’) were measured using an indirect Approach-Avoidance Task (AAT). The crowds comprised different ratios of either neutral and angry faces or happy and angry faces. In Experiment 1, negatively trained participants (NETs) showed a faster avoidance response for the neutral-angry crowds when the number of angry pictures in the crowd increased. This response pattern resembles the one previously found in socially anxious individuals. Experiment 2 replicated the effect of the cognitive bias manipulation on conceptually comparable material, but did not show transfer to the behavioural task. These studies add to the body of knowledge regarding successful modification of interpretive bias and generalizability to a behavioural task.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)326-337
JournalApplied Cognitive Psychology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes


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