Attentional Retraining for Anxiety

Norman B. Schmidt

in The Oxford Handbook of Social Exclusion

Published in print February 2013 | ISBN: 9780195398700
Published online April 2013 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

 Attentional Retraining for Anxiety

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  • Psychology
  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology


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Cognitive models of psychopathology, particularly disorders involving anxiety symptoms, emphasize information processing biases in their development and maintenance. Research has consistently shown that anxious individuals (including patients with anxiety disorders) show an attentional bias in favor of threat cues (i.e., a threat bias). For example, patients with social anxiety disorder may show an attentional bias relating to signs of social rejection such as toward angry or disapproving faces. Recent evidence suggests that it is possible to modify patterns of attention allocation to threat and the resulting changes alter affective responses to stress. This chapter reviews the literature supporting the view that it is possible to modify attentional bias to threat cues, and such attentional “retraining” procedures may offer novel, efficacious treatments for those suffering from anxiety psychopathology.

Keywords: anxiety; attention; cognitive bias; information processing; treatment

Article.  6186 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Social Psychology ; Clinical Psychology

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