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Behav Res Ther. 2013 Jun;51(6):266-73. doi: 10.1016/j.brat.2013.02.008. Epub 2013 Mar 4.

Attentional bias in injection phobia: overt components, time course, and relation to behavior.

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Vanderbilt University, USA.


Blood-injection-injury (BII) phobia is an anxiety disorder that can cause serious health consequences by interfering with medical treatment. Although attentional bias for threat appears to be a core feature of many anxiety disorders and a potential target of treatment, very little is known about attentional bias in BII phobia. In the present study, eye movements were recorded in individuals high and low in injection fear (HIF, LIF) during 18-s exposures to stimulus arrays containing injection, attack, appetitive, and neutral images. Evidence for attentional vigilance was mixed, as HIF individuals oriented to injection images more often than LIF individuals, but did not orient to injection images more often than other emotional images. In contrast, evidence of attentional avoidance was highly robust. HIF individuals rapidly disengaged from injection images on initial viewing and viewed these images less overall compared to other image types, a pattern not observed in the LIF group. Furthermore, attentional avoidance of injection threat was found to uniquely predict behavioral avoidance on an injection behavioral avoidance task (BAT), and group differences on the BAT were mediated by group differences in attentional avoidance. The implications of these findings for further delineating the nature and function of attentional biases in BII phobia are discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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