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The research catalogue is an archive of ESRC-funded grants and outputs. Links, files and other content will no longer be maintained or updated after April 2014.

Do attentional and interpretive biases interact or work independently in vulnerability to emotional stress?

Psychological theories emphasise the key role thought processes play in the development and maintenance of anxiety, depression and elation. Studies show that, relative to the general population, anxious / depressed individuals tend to automatically notice negative rather than positive information (attentional bias), and also show this negative tendency when interpreting ambiguous scenarios (Interpretation bias). In contrast, elated individuals show an opposing pattern. To date however, research has primarily examined one bias in isolation to the other, so little is currently known about the potential relationship between them, and how they may also interact with mood. The first study will address this omission, by examining whether attentional and interpretive biases work together or independently in members of the general population. The results will inform current theoretical models regarding bias operation in those with some vulnerability towards mood disorders and those without. It will also inform study two, which aims to optimise Cognitive Bias Modification (CBM): a training programme which ameliorates biases in a positive direction. If it is found the biases work together, provision of either Interpretive or attentional training is expected to be beneficial. If however they are found to work independently, optimising CBM towards the dominant bias will be beneficial.