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Paradigm shift: A live real-world attention bias task to predict social anxiety and depressive symptoms in adolescent girls

Rosen, Dana (2020) Paradigm shift: A live real-world attention bias task to predict social anxiety and depressive symptoms in adolescent girls. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Rates of depression and social anxiety increase dramatically during adolescence, particularly in girls. Cognitive models of depression and anxiety have implicated attention biases, or preferential attention toward negative stimuli, as a possible mechanism by which individuals develop depression and anxiety. Yet, little is understood about how attention biases operate in social anxiety and depression during adolescent development. Furthermore, most research on attention biases have used computer paradigms (e.g., the dot probe task) to study attention; however, such tasks may be limited in their applicability to real-world settings. To examine attention biases in a live, socially evaluative environment, 123 adolescent girls (aged 11-13) gave a speech in front of a potentially critical judge and a positive judge while wearing mobile eye-tracking glasses. To compare this new task to a more traditional measure of attention, participants also completed a stationary, eye-tracking version of the dot-probe task. Clinician and self-report measures of social anxiety and depressive symptoms were collected. Results revealed that attentional bias indices from the live task demonstrated stronger reliability than those from the dot-probe task. Attention indices from the live attention task were not found to be comparable to indices from the dot probe task, suggesting these tasks tap into unique attentional processes. Overall, girls with greater sustained attention to negative compared to neutral stimuli reported higher levels of social anxiety, and girls who were faster to disengage attention from negative compared to neutral stimuli reported higher levels of depressive symptoms in the dot-probe task. Additionally, girls who spent less time dwelling on the positive judge in the live attention task reported higher depressive symptoms, in line with previous research, suggesting attention patterns in the live attention task may be an important marker for depressive symptoms in adolescence. Future research may benefit from using a prospective, longitudinal research design to examine how attention bias in multiple contexts may be associated with the onset of social anxiety and depressive disorders in order to improve current mechanistic prevention and intervention efforts.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Rosen, Danadkr19@pitt.edudkr19
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairSilk, Jenniferjss4@pitt.edujss4
Committee MemberHallion, Laurenhallion@pitt.eduhallion
Committee MemberPrice,
Committee MemberLibertus, Melissalibertus@pitt.edulibertus
Committee MemberHanson, Jamiejamie.hanson@pitt.edujamie.hanson
Date: 16 September 2020
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 8 July 2019
Approval Date: 16 September 2020
Submission Date: 17 February 2020
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 65
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Psychology
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: anxiety; depression; adolescence; attention bias
Date Deposited: 16 Sep 2020 14:57
Last Modified: 16 Sep 2020 14:57


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