Elaine Fox

Elaine Fox
University of Oxford | OX · Department of Experimental Psychology

PhD University College Dublin

About

180
Publications
78,692
Reads
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10,269
Citations
Introduction
I am Professor in Experimental Psychology at the University of Oxford. My research is aimed at understanding the cognitive and neural basis of vulnerability and resilience. My popular science book RAINY BRAIN SUNNY BRAIN aims to engage the general reader with this exciting and fast-moving research field. Current funding from the ESRC supports a 3-year project on 'resilient functioning in adolescents' & I am the national Impact & Engagement Coordinator for UKRI Mental Health Networks
Additional affiliations
June 2013 - present
University of Oxford
Position
  • Professor of Experimental Psychology
October 1994 - June 2013
University of Essex
Position
  • Professor of Psychology & Brain Science
October 1993 - September 1994
University College Dublin
Position
  • Lecturer in Psychology
Education
October 1984 - June 1988
University College Dublin
Field of study
  • Psychological Science

Publications

Publications (180)
Article
Full-text available
The Oxford Achieving Resilience during COVID-19 (ARC) study collected data from adolescents (aged 13–18), and parents of adolescents, from March 2020 to August 2021. Following a baseline survey (1274 completed baseline), participants were invited to 11 follow-up weekly surveys then 9 monthly follow-up surveys, and to an optional cognitive task. Eac...
Article
Background: Adolescence is a sensitive period for the onset of mental health disorders. Effective, easy-to-disseminate, scalable prevention and early interventions are urgently needed. Affective control has been proposed as a potential target mechanism. Training affective control has been shown to reduce mental health symptoms and improve emotion r...
Preprint
Individuals vary in their ability to tolerate uncertainty. High intolerance of uncertainty is a known risk factor for mental health problems. In the current study we examined the degree to which intolerance of uncertainty predicted depression and anxiety symptoms and their interrelations across the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. We examined t...
Preprint
Belonging is a basic human need, with social isolation signaling a threat to biological fitness. Sensitivity to ostracism varies across individuals and the lifespan, peaking in adolescence. Government-imposed restrictions upon social interactions during COVID-19 may therefore be particularly detrimental to young people and those most sensitive to o...
Article
Uncontrolled eating-in the general population-is characterized by overeating, hedonic hunger and being drawn towards palatable foods. Theoretically, it is the result of a strong food reward signal in relation to a poor ability to exert inhibitory control. How food consumption influences inhibitory control and food cue sensitivity, and how this rela...
Article
Full-text available
Endometriosis is a chronic condition affecting ~10% of women globally. Little is known about the impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic on their care. This brief report is aimed to explore the impact of COVID-19 on the care of people with endometriosis around the world, their priorities in relation to their clinical care during...
Article
Full-text available
Background: Recent years have witnessed an increasing prevalence of binge eating tendencies in adolescence-warranting a clearer understanding of their underlying predisposing and precipitating factors. The current study investigated whether the interaction between high levels of anxiety and stress predicted increased levels of binge eating tendenc...
Preprint
Full-text available
Objective To explore the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on pain and fatigue symptoms and their interactions with the impact on mental health in people with endometriosis. Design Global cross-sectional survey. Setting Online survey. Sample A total of 4717 adults with a surgical or radiological diagnosis of endometriosis. Methods An online global st...
Article
Full-text available
The combined cognitive bias hypothesis proposes that emotional information-processing biases may conjointly influence mental health. Yet, little is known about the interrelationships amongst cognitive biases, particularly in adolescence. We used data from the CogBIAS longitudinal study (Booth et al., 2017), including 450 adolescents who completed m...
Preprint
Full-text available
Uncontrolled eating—in the general population—is characterized by overeating, hedonic hunger and being drawn towards palatable foods. Theoretically, it is the result of a strong food reward signal in relation to a poor ability to exert inhibitory control. How food consumption influences inhibitory control and food reward sensitivity, and how this r...
Article
Full-text available
The aim of the present study was to investigate the role of working memory load on the gaze cueing effect in high and low trait-anxious participants, using electroencephalography. Fearful and neutral faces predicted the location of a target, which was a digit that participants were asked to recall from a series encoded in each trial, in a modified...
Article
Deficits in cognitive flexibility have been associated with anxiety and worry, however few studies have assessed cognitive flexibility in the context of emotional stimuli (i.e. affective flexibility). The present study (n = 79) investigated whether individual differences in affective flexibility predict levels of trait anxiety and worry over a peri...
Article
Previous meta-analyses investigating attentional biases towards pain have utilized reaction time measures. Eye-tracking methods have been adopted to more directly and reliably assess biases, but this literature has not been synthesized in relation to pain. This meta-analysis aimed to investigate the nature and time-course of attentional biases to p...
Article
Full-text available
The development of negative cognitive biases, together with symptoms of anxiety and depression, has yet to be investigated longitudinally. Using a three-wave design, the present study examined developmental trajectories of anxiety and depressive symptoms and the co-occurrence of cognitive biases, in a large normative sample of adolescents (N = 504)...
Article
Full-text available
Resilience is a dynamic process depicted by better than expected levels of functioning in response to significant adversity. This can be assessed statistically, by taking the residuals from a model of psychological functioning regressed onto negative life events. We report the first study to investigate multiple cognitive factors in relation to thi...
Article
Full-text available
Worry is common in children and adolescents, yet some youth experience excessive worries that persist over time and cause significant distress. Whilst the literature on worry and generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) in adults is well established, relatively less is known about the cognitive mechanisms underlying child and adolescent worry. An influen...
Article
Full-text available
Attentional bias to threat cues is most adaptive when the dangers they signal can readily be controlled by timely action. This study examined whether heightened trait anxiety is associated with impaired alignment between attentional bias to threat and variation in the controllability of danger, and whether this is moderated by executive functioning...
Article
Full-text available
Background UK Biobank is a well-characterised cohort of over 500 000 participants including genetics, environmental data and imaging. An online mental health questionnaire was designed for UK Biobank participants to expand its potential. Aims Describe the development, implementation and results of this questionnaire. Method An expert working grou...
Article
Full-text available
The objective of this study is to determine whether attention toward fear messages is affected by variation in the controllability of the associated danger. There is no consensus regarding the effectiveness of fear appeals in driving adaptive behaviour, and it may be the case that threat messages fail to capture attention if the associated danger i...
Article
Full-text available
Background: Adolescence is a time of considerable social, cognitive, and physiological development. It reflects a period of heightened risk for the onset of mental health problems, as well as heightened opportunity for flourishing and resilience. The CogBIAS Longitudinal Study (CogBIAS-L-S) aims to investigate psychological development during adol...
Article
Psychological science relies on behavioral measures to assess cognitive processing; however, the field has not yet developed a tradition of routinely examining the reliability of these behavioral measures. Reliable measures are essential to draw robust inferences from statistical analyses, and subpar reliability has severe implications for measures...
Chapter
Full-text available
In this chapter, we aim to provide an overview of both cognitive and genetic approaches to mental health in order to encourage greater collaboration between those who typically take a cognitive approach to experimental psychopathology and those working in molecular genetics, who typically take a more biological approach. Because of the extensive na...
Preprint
The Combined Cognitive Bias Hypothesis proposes that emotional information processing biases associate with each other and may interact to conjointly influence mental health. Yet, little is known about the interrelationships amongst cognitive biases, particularly in adolescence. We used data from the CogBIAS longitudinal study (Booth et al. 2017),...
Article
Full-text available
Considerable effort and funding have been spent on developing Attention Bias Modification (ABM) as a treatment for anxiety disorders, theorized to exert therapeutic effects through reduction of a tendency to orient attention toward threat. However, meta-analytical evidence that clinical anxiety is characterized by threat-related attention bias is t...
Preprint
Full-text available
This paper corrects and updates a paper published in BJPsych Open 2018 Mental Health in UK Biobank (https://doi.org/10.1192/bjo.2018.12) that was voluntarily retracted following the finding of errors in the coding of the variable for alcohol use disorder. Notably, the percentage of participants reaching threshold for alcohol use disorder on the Alc...
Article
Full-text available
Mental health in UK Biobank: development, implementation and results from an online questionnaire completed by 157 366 participants — RETRACTED - Volume 5 Issue 4 - Katrina A. S. Davis, Jonathan R. I. Coleman, Mark Adams, Naomi Allen, Gerome Breen, Breda Cullen, Chris Dickens, Elaine Fox, Nick Graham, Jo Holliday, Louise M. Howard, Ann John, Willia...
Article
Full-text available
Background: Depressive recurrence is highly prevalent and adds significantly to the burden of depressive disorder. Whilst some clinical predictors of recurrence have been clearly demonstrated (e.g. residual symptoms, previous episodes), the cognitive and psychological processes that may contribute to recurrence risk are less well established. In t...
Article
Full-text available
Sensory Processing Sensitivity (SPS) is a common, heritable and evolutionarily conserved trait describing inter-individual differences in sensitivity to both negative and positive environments. Despite societal interest in SPS, scientific knowledge is lagging behind. Here, we critically discuss how SPS relates to other theories, how to measure SPS,...
Article
Full-text available
Eye cues have been shown to stimulate rapid, reflexive, unconscious processing and in many experimental settings to cue increased prosocial and decreased antisocial behaviour. Eye cues are being widely applied in public policy to reduce crime and antisocial behaviour. Recently, failed replication attempts and two meta-analyses examining the eye cue...
Article
Full-text available
Emotions are at the heart of how we understand the human mind and of our relationships within the social world. Yet, there is still no scientific consensus on the fundamental nature of emotion. A central quest within the discipline of affective science is to develop an in-depth understanding of emotions, moods, and feelings and how they are embodie...
Article
Full-text available
Background and objectives: It has been suggested that impaired attentional control (AC) promotes the use of maladaptive emotional regulation strategies, such as rumination, with subsequent increase in risk of depression. Method: This study examined this hypothesis in a healthy community sample. Questionnaire measures of depression, anxiety, rumi...
Preprint
Full-text available
Sensory Processing Sensitivity (SPS) is a trait describing inter-individual differences in sensitivity to environments, both positive and negative ones. SPS has attracted growing societal interest. However, (neuro)scientific evidence is lagging behind. We critically discuss how to measure SPS, how it relates to other theories of Environmental Sensi...
Article
Full-text available
Mental health in UK Biobank: development, implementation and results from an online questionnaire completed by 157 366 participants – CORRIGENDUM - Volume 4 Issue 5 - Katrina A. S. Davis, Jonathan R. I. Coleman, Mark Adams, Naomi Allen, Gerome Breen, Breda Cullen, Chris Dickens, Elaine Fox, Nick Graham, Jo Holliday, Louise M. Howard, Ann John, Will...
Article
Full-text available
In our food-rich environment we must constantly resist appealing food in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Previous studies have found that food-specific inhibition training can produce changes in eating behaviour, such as a reduction in snack consumption. However, the mechanisms that drive the effect of inhibition training on eating behaviour...
Article
Full-text available
Individuals with idiopathic environmental illness with attribution to electromagnetic fields (IEI-EMF) claim they experience adverse symptoms when exposed to electromagnetic fields (EMFs) from mobile telecommunication devices. However, research has consistently reported no relationship between exposure to EMFs and symptoms in IEI-EMF individuals. T...
Preprint
Full-text available
Background: Considerable effort and funding are spent on developing Attention Bias Modification (ABM) as a treatment for anxiety disorders. ABM is theorized to exert therapeutic effects through reduction of an increased attentional bias towards threat. Yet, the available meta-analytical evidence for the common assertion that clinical anxiety is cha...
Article
Full-text available
Background UK Biobank is a well-characterised cohort of over 500 000 participants that offers unique opportunities to investigate multiple diseases and risk factors. Aims An online mental health questionnaire completed by UK Biobank participants was expected to expand the potential for research into mental disorders. Method An expert working grou...
Article
Full-text available
Mental health in UK Biobank: development, implementation and results from an online questionnaire completed by 157 366 participants – CORRIGENDUM - Volume 4 Issue 3 - Katrina A. S. Davis, Jonathan R. I. Coleman, Mark Adams, Naomi Allen, Gerome Breen, Breda Cullen, Chris Dickens, Elaine Fox, Nick Graham, Jo Holliday, Louise M. Howard, Ann John, Will...
Preprint
Full-text available
Psychological science relies on behavioural measures to assess cognitive processing; however, the field has not yet developed a tradition of routinely examining the reliability of these behavioural measures. Reliable measures are essential to draw robust inferences from statistical analyses, while subpar reliability has severe implications for the...
Preprint
Full-text available
Psychological science relies on behavioural measures to assess cognitive processing; however, the field has not yet developed a tradition of routinely examining the reliability of these behavioural measures. Reliable measures are essential to draw robust inferences from statistical analyses, while subpar reliability has severe implications for the...
Article
Authors’ reply - Volume 212 Issue 4 - Ben Grafton, Colin MacLeod, Daniel Rudaizky, Elske Salemink, Elaine Fox, Lies Notebaert
Article
Full-text available
Worry refers to the experience of uncontrollable negative thoughts. Cognitive models suggest that the combination of negative information processing biases along with diminished attentional control contribute to worry. In the current study we investigate whether promoting a) adaptive interpretation bias and b) efficient deployment of attentional co...
Article
Full-text available
Background: Optimal psychological development is dependent upon a complex interplay between individual and situational factors. Investigating the development of these factors in adolescence will help to improve understanding of emotional vulnerability and resilience. The CogBIAS longitudinal study (CogBIAS-L-S) aims to combine cognitive and geneti...
Article
Full-text available
If meta-analysis is to provide valuable answers, then it is critical to ensure clarity about the questions being asked. Here, we distinguish two important questions concerning cognitive bias modification research that are not differentiated in the meta-analysis recently published by Cristea et al (2015) in this journal: (1) do the varying procedure...
Article
The process of worry has been associated with reductions in working memory capacity and availability of resources necessary for efficient attentional control. This, in turn, can lead to escalating worry. Recent investigations into working memory training have shown improvements in attentional control and cognitive performance in high trait-anxious...
Article
Full-text available
Attention bias for pain-related information is theorised to maintain chronic pain, indicating that changing this bias could improve pain-related outcomes. Modifying attention biases in adolescents, when chronic pain often first emerges, may be particularly beneficial. We report here a randomized, placebo-controlled, parallel-group trial of Attentio...
Article
Full-text available
Obesity is a global problem reaching epidemic proportions and can be explained by unhealthy eating and sedentary lifestyles. Understanding the psychological processes underlying unhealthy eating behaviour is crucial for the development of effective obesity prevention programmes. Dual-process models implicate the interplay between impaired cognitive...
Poster
Full-text available
Poster presented at the XIII Mind the Brain Symposium (Utrecht, the Netherlands).
Article
Full-text available
Objective: Cognitive bias modification (CBM) eliminates cognitive biases toward negative information and is efficacious in reducing depression recurrence, but the mechanisms behind the bias elimination are not fully understood. The present study investigated, through computer simulation of neural network models, the neural dynamics underlying the...
Poster
Full-text available
Abstract: Resilience is considered to be the process by which individuals demonstrate more positive outcomes than would be expected, given the nature of the adversity experienced. We propose that a cognitive approach has the potential to guide studies investigating the relationships between adversity, stress, and resilience. We outline a preliminar...
Article
Adult chronic pain patients are consistently shown to interpret ambiguous health and bodily information in a pain-related and threatening way. This interpretation bias may play a role in the development and maintenance of pain and disability. However, no studies have yet investigated the role of interpretation bias in adolescent pain patients, desp...
Article
Full-text available
Background New indices, calculated on data from the widely used Dot Probe Task, were recently proposed to capture variability in biased attention allocation. We observed that it remains unclear which data pattern is meant to be indicative of dynamic bias and thus to be captured by these indices. Moreover, we hypothesized that the new indices are se...
Data
ABV simulation script. (R)
Data
ABV simulation wrapper script. (R)
Data
TL-BS simulation wrapper script. (R)
Data
Combined plot scripts. (R)
Data
TL-BS simulations—complete outcome tables. (DOCX)
Data
Dot Probe Task–scope of application. (DOCX)
Data
ABV simulations—complete outcome tables. (DOCX)
Data
TL-BS simulation script. (R)
Presentation
Full-text available
In this presentation I outline our recently accepted paper ”A cognitive model of psychological resilience”. The model aims to draw together the largely disparate research areas of cognitive-experimental or information-processing approaches to emotion dysfunction and resilience resarch.
Presentation
Full-text available
In this presentation I outline cognitive-experimental and information processing approaches to emotion dysfunction before outlining how these methods can be applied to resilience research. I finish by outlining our recently proposed cognitive model of resilience and the role of applied flexibility in mapping appropriate cognitive processing strateg...
Article
Full-text available
Negative cognitive biases and genetic variation have been associated with risk of psychopathology in largely independent lines of research. Here, we discuss ways in which these dynamic fields of research might be fruitfully combined. We propose that gene by environment (G × E) interactions may be mediated by selective cognitive biases and that cert...
Article
Background: Pain is common and can be debilitating in childhood. Theoretical models propose that attention to pain plays a key role in pain outcomes, however very little research has investigated this in youth. This study examined how anxiety-related variables and attention control interacted to predict children’s attention to pain cues using eye-t...
Poster
Full-text available
Resilience is a dynamic process theorized to protect against, or counteract the adverse effects of risk exposure. A wealth of prior research has examined the role of selective processing of negative emotional information as a vulnerability factor in the development of emotion dysfunction. However, less consideration has been given to the possible r...
Article
Full-text available
Resilience is considered to be the process by which individuals demonstrate more positive outcomes than would be expected, given the nature of the adversity experienced. We propose that acognitive approach has the potential to guide studies investigating the relationships between adversity, stress, and resilience. Weoutline a preliminary cognitive...