Heeren A, Reese HE, McNally RJ, Philippot P
Behav Res Ther 2012 Jan;50(1):30-9
Social phobics exhibit an attentional bias for threat in probe detection and probe discrimination paradigms. Attention training programs, in which probes always replace nonthreatening cues, reduce attentional bias for threat and self-reported social anxiety. However, researchers have seldom included behavioral measures of anxiety reduction, and have never taken physiological measures of anxiety reduction. In the present study, we trained individuals with generalized social phobia (n = 57) to attend to threat cues (attend to threat), to attend to positive cues (attend to positive), or to alternately attend to both (control condition). We assessed not only self-reported social anxiety, but also behavioral and physiological measures of social anxiety. Participants trained to attend to nonthreatening cues demonstrated significantly greater reductions in self-reported, behavioral, and physiological measures of anxiety than did participants from the attend to threat and control conditions.