Does Exposure Therapy Lead to Changes in Attention Bias and Approach-Avoidance Bias in Patients with Social Anxiety Disorder?
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Cognitive biases have been suggested to play a crucial role in the etiology and maintenance of social anxiety disorder (SAD). The aim of the present study was to investigate the effects of exposure therapy on attention- and approach-avoidance bias in SAD. In a randomized controlled trial, we compared changes from pre- to posttreatment in both biases in patients receiving stand-alone exposure therapy to a waiting-list control condition comprising 60 participants (Mage = 36.9 years) with SAD with heterogeneous social fears. Before and after treatment, attention bias was assessed using the dot probe task and approach-avoidance bias using the approach avoidance task. Results revealed that pre- to posttreatment changes in attention bias and approach-avoidance bias in exposure therapy did not significantly differ from changes in the waiting-list condition. Limitations and potential implications of the current results are discussed.
KeywordsExposure therapy Social anxiety disorder Cognitive biases Attention bias Approach avoidance bias
This work was supported by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO; 655.010.207). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. We thank the Intelligent System Department of the Delft University of Technology for their technical support.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of Interest
Isabel L. Kampmann, Paul M.G. Emmelkamp, and Nexhmedin Morina declare that they have no conflict of interest.
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of the authors.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
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