An Eye-Tracking Study of Attentional Biases for Uncertainty and Generalized Anxiety Symptoms
Type of DegreeMaster's Thesis
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Intolerance of uncertainty (IU), a dispositional characteristic reflecting negative beliefs about the potential threat of uncertainty (Koerner & Dugas, 2007), is related to information-processing biases (e.g., interpretation biases) that may maintain and exacerbate anxiety symptomatology. However, an attentional bias for uncertainty (ABU) has been relatively understudied. Using eye-tracking technology, the current study aimed to confirm whether IU is associated with ABU and determine whether ABU partially explains the IU-generalized anxiety relationship. It was hypothesized that IU would be associated with facilitated engagement with uncertainty and that ABU would account for significant variance in the IU-generalized anxiety relationship. Results did not support either hypothesis; however, generalized anxiety symptoms were positively associated with impaired disengagement with uncertainty in the total sample (N = 144). Exploratory analyses revealed that females high in IU and generalized anxiety symptoms exhibited avoidant engagement with as well as impaired disengagement from uncertainty, while males exhibited no significant attentional biases. Clinical implications and directions for future research are discussed.