Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences, Psychology

First Advisor

Benjamin L. Hankin, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Kateri McRae

Third Advisor

Stephen Shirk

Fourth Advisor

Jeff Jenson


Anxiety, Cognitive control, Depression, Emotional distress


Biased attention for salient negative emotional stimuli is a proposed cognitive mechanism of internalizing disorders, namely depression and anxiety. Previous studies have demonstrated biases in bottom-up, stimulus-driven attentional systems, as well as top-down, goal-oriented attentional systems, in the context of negative emotion. However, the underlying cognitive mechanisms that drive these biases, such as attentional control deficits, are not well understood. Furthermore, given the high degree of conceptual and empirical overlap between depression and anxiety, it is unclear how biased attention might relate to constructs common across both disorders, such as general distress, versus what is specific to each disorder. The current study utilized an emotional adaptation of the Antisaccade Task with eye-tracking to precisely and accurately tease apart components of attentional control, including inhibition and shifting, in the context of social threat (i.e., anger) in a community sample of youth and young adults (ages 13-22; N = 80). Findings show that difficulty inhibiting attention for social threat is associated with symptoms of general distress, which are shared across depression and anxiety, as well as symptoms of physiological hyperarousal that are specific to anxiety. Overall, findings further clarify what specific components of attentional control deficits underlie biased attentional processing, a well-established cognitive mechanism of internalizing disorders.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Lauren Darlene Gulley


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

74 p.


Clinical Psychology

Included in

Psychology Commons