Wednesday, 29 May 2013

JUST PUBLISHED: Treating Anxiety by Modifying Negative Cognitive Biases

Dr Sirous Mobini and colleagues have recently published a integrative review of the literature investigating the treatment of anxiety using cognitive bias modification.

Cognitive theories of social anxiety indicate that negative biases in thinking play a key role in causing and maintaining social anxiety. On the basis of these cognitive theories, research has shown that individuals with social anxiety interpret ambiguous social situations in a negative (or less passive) manner.

Cognitive Bias Modification for interpretative biases (CBM-I) was developed from this experimental research to reduce these negative interpretative biases in social anxiety. CBM-I intervention is entirely delivered by computer and there is no contact with a clinician. Over several sessions participants are trained to develop positive interpretations of ambiguous social scenarios. Participants read a series of ambiguous social scenarios presented on the computer screen which are ultimately resolved positively via completion of incomplete words (e.g. p--as-nt). All passages are presented in four lines individually and the participants’ task is to complete the word fragment (last word in the passage) after reading the passage by keying the first missing letter (in this example the letter ‘l’ for pleasant.

The results of the literature review have shown that this CBM-I positive training not only reduces negative interpretations of ambiguous social situations but also reduces social anxiety symptoms in individuals with social anxiety. However, the long-term positive effects of CBM-I need to be investigated with patients with social anxiety disorder.

For more information, please see the following journal article:

Mobini, S., Reynolds, S., & Mackintosh, B. (2012). Clinical Implications of Cognitive Bias Modification for Interpretative Biases in Social Anxiety: An Integrative Literature Review Cognitive Therapy and Research, 37 (1), 173-182 DOI: 10.1007/s10608-012-9445-8

or e-mail Dr Mobini at