Inducing a benign interpretational bias reduces trait anxiety

Medical Research Council Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, 15, Chaucer Road, Cambridge, UK. <>
Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry (Impact Factor: 2.23). 07/2007; 38(2):225-36. DOI: 10.1016/j.jbtep.2006.10.011
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If negative interpretational bias causes emotional vulnerability, reduction of this bias should reduce proneness to anxiety. High trait-anxious volunteers were trained over four sessions to resolve descriptions of ambiguous events in an increasingly positive manner. This group subsequently made more positive interpretations of novel descriptions than did those in a test-retest control condition. Furthermore, trait anxiety scores reduced more in the trained group than in untrained controls. These results confirm earlier findings that modifying interpretation biases produces congruent changes in emotional vulnerability, and suggest a possible role for similar training methods in controlling pathological anxiety.

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Available from: Jenny Yiend, Oct 13, 2015
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    • "Moreover, it is the standard procedure in these experimental programs that no explanation for the ''correct'' response is given (e.g., see Vassilopoulos et al. 2009) and we have noted that some children appear puzzled or suspicious about the validity of the feedback provided or find it difficult to identify themselves with the positive outcomes described in training (see also Mathews et al. 2007, for similar observations in adults). Mathews et al. (2007) managed to increase the acceptance of positive interpretations in adults by modifying the training material so as to introduce positive outcomes in a more graded fashion, beginning as nonnegative and gradually becoming explicitly positive. Following a different procedure , Lau et al. (2013b) also attempted to optimize the effects of positive CBM-I on children by involving parents. "
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    ABSTRACT: Cognitive bias modification of interpretations (CBM-I) programs, in which individuals are trained to interpret ambiguous scenarios in a benign way, appear effective in altering anxiety-related cognitive biases in both children and adults. In this experimental study, we explored the effectiveness of a novel CBM-I training tool for children, which involves joint discussions of ambiguous information with a same-gender peer. 10-to 11-year-old boys and girls (n = 20) were provided with ambiguous social vignettes, each followed by two interpretations, and then asked to select one of them after a brief discussion with a same-gender peer. A further group of participants did not participate in any training but only completed pretraining and posttraining measures (n = 18). Results indicated that children who completed the interpretation training made less negative interpretations, endorsed less negative emotional consequences, reported less social anxiety, and performed better in a stressful task compared with the no-intervention group. Clinical implications of the results are briefly discussed.
    Journal of Child and Family Studies 01/2015; DOI:10.1007/s10826-015-0194-7 · 1.42 Impact Factor
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    • "Both forms have been shown to impact clinically relevant symptoms across a range of anxiety disorders and depression with effect sizes for CBM-I on biases ranging up to Hedges g = .81 (see reviews by Beard [1]; Hallion and Ruscio [2]; Macleod [3] Macleod and Matthews [4]). CBM-I interventions have demonstrated efficacy in modifying the key cognitive biases implicated in various anxious populations, including high trait anxiety [5,6], generalized anxiety [7], spider fear [8] and social anxiety [9-13]. This research has also extended to include transdiagnostic constructs such as perfectionism, which is associated with a range of clinical diagnoses [14]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background Cognitive bias modification (CBM) interventions have demonstrated efficacy in augmenting core biases implicated in psychopathology. The current randomized controlled trial (RCT) will evaluate the efficacy of an internet-delivered positive imagery cognitive bias modification intervention for obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) when compared to a control condition. Methods/Design Patients meeting diagnostic criteria for a current or lifetime diagnosis of OCD will be recruited via the research arm of a not-for-profit clinical and research unit in Australia. The minimum sample size for each group (alpha set at 0.05, power at .80) was identified as 29, but increased to 35 to allow for 20% attrition. We will measure the impact of CBM on interpretations bias using the OC Bias Measure (The Ambiguous Scenarios Test for OCD ;AST-OCD) and OC-beliefs (The Obsessive Beliefs Questionnaire-TRIP; OBQ-TRIP). Secondary outcome measures include the Dimensional Obsessive-Compulsive Scale (DOCS), the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9), The Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (K10), and the Word Sentence Association Test for OCD (WSAO). Change in diagnostic status will be indexed using the OCD Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview (M.I.N.I) Module at baseline and follow-up. Intent-to-treat (ITT) marginal and mixed-effect models using restricted maximum likelihood (REML) estimation will be used to evaluate the primary hypotheses. Stability of bias change will be assessed at 1-month follow-up. Discussion A limitation of the online nature of the study is the inability to include a behavioral outcome measure. Trial registration The trial was registered on 10 October 2013 with the Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry (ACTRN12613001130752)
    Trials 05/2014; DOI:10.1186/1745-6215-15-193 · 1.73 Impact Factor
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    • "This might have affected the results given the content specificity of interpretive biases (Clark et al., 1988; Voncken, Bögels, & de Vries, 2003) and might explain why there was a change in interpretive bias, but not in emotionality (Mackintosh, Mathews, Eckstein, & Hoppitt, 2013). However, as earlier CBM-I studies in anxious individuals suggested that the CBM-I effects were rather general and independent of the precise concerns of the individual (Mathews et al., 2007; Salemink et al., 2009), general social scenarios were used in the current study. It might, however, be that in clinical populations, it is more important to have a match between content of the training and the concerns of the population and/or intended emotional change. "
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    ABSTRACT: Previous research suggests that negative interpretation biases stimulate anxiety. As patients with an anxiety disorder tend to interpret ambiguous information negatively, it was hypothesised that training more positive interpretations reduces negative interpretation biases and emotional problems. In a randomised, double-blind placebo-controlled trial, patients with different anxiety disorders were trained online over eight days to either generate positive interpretations of ambiguous social scenarios (n = 18) or to generate 50% positive and 50% negative interpretations in the placebo control condition (n = 18) (Study 1). Positively trained patients made more positive interpretations and less negative ones than control patients. This training was followed by a decrease in anxiety, depression, and general psychological distress, but this effect was also observed in the control group. To get a better understanding of these unexpected results, we tested a 100% neutral placebo control group (Study 2, n = 19); now the scenarios described neutral, non-emotional situations and no valenced interpretations were generated. The results from this neutral group were comparable to the effects from the other control group. An advantage, but potentially also a disadvantage of the study is that CBM-I training was performed online with less control over the procedures and setting. In addition, the scenarios were not matched to the specific concerns of each patient and the training sessions were performed in close proximity to one another. Compared to both control conditions, CBM-I had superior effects on interpretations, but not on emotions. The current findings showed the boundary conditions for CBM-I.
    Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry 10/2013; 45(1):186-195. DOI:10.1016/j.jbtep.2013.10.005 · 2.23 Impact Factor
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