Combined Cognitive Bias Modification Study for Reducing Symptoms of Social Anxiety: An Experimental Study

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TURK PSIKOLOJI DERGISI, vol.36, no.87, pp.84-105, 2021 (SSCI) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 36 Issue: 87
  • Publication Date: 2021
  • Doi Number: 10.31828/tpd1300443320191020m000029
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, Psycinfo
  • Page Numbers: pp.84-105
  • Hacettepe University Affiliated: Yes


It is seen that the number of studies examining cognitive bias modifications for various stages of information processing in a combined form is limited. Since psychological disorders may not be the result of bias in a single information processing stage this study examines whether combined attentional and interpretational bias modifications with university students displaying social anxiety symptoms may lead to a decrease in social anxiety-related complaints. Eighty-four participants were randomly assigned into two groups: cognitive bias modification (Group E) and attention-placebo control (Group C). Participants in Group E were subjected to cognitive bias modification twice a week, eight sessions in total. Participants in Group C were subjected to a similar process but without any cognitive bias modification. Sixty-five participants completed the study. Participants' levels of social anxiety, anxiety, depression, and dysfunctional thinking were evaluated three times; pretest, posttest, and two months after the last session. Participants' cognitive bias levels were evaluated twice; pretest and posttest. The relationship between variables was also evaluated. The statistical analysis results reveal that social anxiety levels, the primary outcome of this study, significantly decreased in Group E compared to Group C; however, this effect was not preserved in the follow-up measurements. In addition, the interpretational bias of Group E also decreased significantly in the posttest measurement compared with Group C. No differentiation was observed between groups regarding the measurement of secondary variables. Furthermore, no relationship was identified between the bias measurements and other variables. The main finding of the study was that combined bias modification has a partial effect on social anxiety symptoms, but this effect is not permanent and there is a need for thither research to increase the effectivity of cognitive bias modifications.