Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Benjamin L. Hankin, Ph.D.


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.

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Received from ProQuest

Rights holder

Lauren Darlene Gulley

File size

74 p.

File format





Clinical Psychology

Available for download on Saturday, September 21, 2019

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Psychology Commons