Author(s): Vedhara K, Brant H, Adamopoulos E, Byrne-Davis L, Mackintosh B, Hoppitt L, Tovee M, Miles J, Pennebaker JW
Abstract: BACKGROUND: There is considerable interest in factors which may influence the efficacy of emotional disclosure. To date, a range of demographic and psychological variables have been considered. However, consideration has not yet been given to cognitive factors known to influence emotional processing such as attentional bias (AB). PURPOSE: We present the results from an exploratory study examining the role of AB in influencing mood outcomes following emotional disclosure. METHOD: Individuals with negative and avoidant ABs (i.e., individuals vigilant for and individuals avoidant of negative emotional material, respectively) were identified by asking 105 individuals to complete a standardized AB task. Individuals in the bottom quartile of AB scores were categorized as having a negative AB and individuals in the top quartile were categorized as having an avoidant AB. These participants (n = 38) completed the emotional disclosure intervention and mood was assessed at 1, 4, and 8 weeks post-intervention. RESULTS: Negative AB individuals showed greater improvements in depression, anger, fatigue, and total mood disturbance. These results were unrelated to alexithymia. CONCLUSION: These results provide preliminary support for the proposal that AB may influence the effects of emotional disclosure on mood.
Keywords: Attentional bias, Mood outcomes, Emotional disclosure, Negative AB, Avoidant AB