The Attentional Blink Effect in Spider Phobia
Type of Degreethesis
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Extant research suggests that individuals with spider phobia relative to non-anxious controls display a shorter attentional blink (AB) in response to spider-related target words. Common methodological limitations of such research have included the following: (1) target stimuli have not included affectively neutral words for comparison; (2) experimenters have failed to include an inter-stimulus interval; (3) initial screening measures have not properly disguised the purpose of the experiment; (4) sub-clinical spider phobia samples have been used; and (5) target words have not been matched in frequency of use to the distracter words. Accordingly, the present study addressed each of these limitations. Individuals with spider phobia (DSM-IV: 300.29) did indeed exhibit a reduced AB duration; however, the magnitude of the effect was considerably smaller relative to previous findings. The results highlight the sensitivity of the AB to the aforementioned limitations.