Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences, Psychology

First Advisor

Anne P. DePrince, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Rob Roberts

Third Advisor

Daniel N. McIntosh

Fourth Advisor

Stephen Shirk

Fifth Advisor

Lavita Nadkarni


Anxiety, Attention, Depression, Eye tracking, Intimate partner violence, Post-traumatic stress disorder


Exposure to intimate partner violence (IPV) puts women at risk for severe and chronic physical and mental health consequences, including elevations in IPV-related psychopathology and increased risk for future victimization. Previous research has examined attention as one of the key information processing mechanisms associated with elevated psychopathology and risk for victimization; however, the nature of attentional processing in response to IPV-related information in women exposed to IPV is poorly understood. Therefore, the current study aimed to further understanding of associations between attentional processing, IPV exposure, and related distress using measures of eye movement and subjective interpretations of IPV-related information. A sample of women exposed to IPV (n = 57) viewed sets of negative, positive, and neutral relationship images for 15 s each while having their eye movements monitored and later provided subjective ratings and interpretations of levels of risk and safety in those images. We examined associations of outcome measures with proximal victimization experiences and IPV-related psychopathology (i.e., depression, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and dissociation). Results indicated a bias to attend to negative relationship images relative to positive and neutral images, though this attention bias fluctuated over time and varied as a function of symptomatology such that depression corresponded with increases in attention to negative images over time and PTSD corresponded with decreases in attention to negative images. The general attention bias for negative images appeared to be explained by rumination on and/or difficulty disengaging from negative images, which was related to general elevations in psychopathology as well as exposure to revictimization by different perpetrators. Subjective interpretations and perception of danger cues were related to victimization history and level and type of IPV-related distress. We replicated these procedures with a sample of undergraduate students without IPV histories or related symptomatology (n = 33) and found that the overall attention bias for negative images was not replicated, despite general similarities in patterns of attention over time. Results therefore indicated associations between attentional processing and IPV exposure and related symptomatology. Implications for models of IPV-related psychopathology and attentional processing as well as directions for future study and interventions are discussed.

Publication Statement

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

Rights Holder

Ryan B. Matlow


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

143 p.


Clinical Psychology, Cognitive Psychology