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Attentional Bias towards Positive Emotion Predicts Stress Resilience


Thoern, Hanna A; Grueschow, Marcus; Ehlert, Ulrike; Ruff, Christian C; Kleim, Birgit (2016). Attentional Bias towards Positive Emotion Predicts Stress Resilience. PLoS ONE, 11(3):e0148368.

Abstract

There is extensive evidence for an association between an attentional bias towards emotionally negative stimuli and vulnerability to stress-related psychopathology. Less is known about whether selective attention towards emotionally positive stimuli relates to mental health and stress resilience. The current study used a modified Dot Probe task to investigate if individual differences in attentional biases towards either happy or angry emotional stimuli, or an interaction between these biases, are related to self-reported trait stress resilience. In a nonclinical sample (N = 43), we indexed attentional biases as individual differences in reaction time for stimuli preceded by either happy or angry (compared to neutral) face stimuli. Participants with greater attentional bias towards happy faces (but not angry faces) reported higher trait resilience. However, an attentional bias towards angry stimuli moderated this effect: The attentional bias towards happy faces was only predictive for resilience in those individuals who also endorsed an attentional bias towards angry stimuli. An attentional bias towards positive emotional stimuli may thus be a protective factor contributing to stress resilience, specifically in those individuals who also endorse an attentional bias towards negative emotional stimuli. Our findings therefore suggest a novel target for prevention and treatment interventions addressing stress-related psychopathology.

Abstract

There is extensive evidence for an association between an attentional bias towards emotionally negative stimuli and vulnerability to stress-related psychopathology. Less is known about whether selective attention towards emotionally positive stimuli relates to mental health and stress resilience. The current study used a modified Dot Probe task to investigate if individual differences in attentional biases towards either happy or angry emotional stimuli, or an interaction between these biases, are related to self-reported trait stress resilience. In a nonclinical sample (N = 43), we indexed attentional biases as individual differences in reaction time for stimuli preceded by either happy or angry (compared to neutral) face stimuli. Participants with greater attentional bias towards happy faces (but not angry faces) reported higher trait resilience. However, an attentional bias towards angry stimuli moderated this effect: The attentional bias towards happy faces was only predictive for resilience in those individuals who also endorsed an attentional bias towards angry stimuli. An attentional bias towards positive emotional stimuli may thus be a protective factor contributing to stress resilience, specifically in those individuals who also endorse an attentional bias towards negative emotional stimuli. Our findings therefore suggest a novel target for prevention and treatment interventions addressing stress-related psychopathology.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Economics
06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Uncontrolled Keywords:DoktoratPsych Erstautor
Date:2016
Deposited On:29 Mar 2016 12:19
Last Modified:13 Aug 2017 09:22
Publisher:Public Library of Science (PLoS)
ISSN:1932-6203
Free access at:PubMed ID. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0148368
PubMed ID:27008475

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Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

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