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J Abnorm Psychol. 2008 Nov;117(4):860-8. doi: 10.1037/a0013445.

The effect of a single-session attention modification program on response to a public-speaking challenge in socially anxious individuals.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, San Diego State University, 6386 Alvarado Court, San Diego, CA 92182, USA. namir@mail.sdsu.edu


Research suggests that individuals with social anxiety show an attention bias for threat-relevant information However, few studies have directly manipulated attention to examine its effect on anxiety. In the current article, the authors tested the hypothesis that an attention modification program would be effective in reducing anxiety response and improving performance on a public-speaking challenge. Socially anxious participants completed a probe detection task by identifying letters (E or F) replacing one member of a pair of faces (neutral or disgust). The authors trained attention by including a contingency between the location of the neutral face and the probe in one group (Attention Modification Program; AMP). Participants in the AMP group showed significantly less attention bias to threat after training and lower levels of anxiety in response to a public-speaking challenge than did the participants in the Attention Control Condition (ACC) group. Moreover, blind raters judged the speeches of those in the AMP group as better than those in the ACC group. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that attention plays a causal role in the maintenance of social anxiety.

(PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2008 APA, all rights reserved).

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