A novel probe of attentional bias for threat in specific phobia: Application of the “MouseView.js” approach

Sarah E. Woronko, Sarah C. Jessup*, Thomas Armstrong, Alexander L. Anwyl-Irvine, Edwin S. Dalmaijer, Bunmi O. Olatunji

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

Abstract

Although attentional bias for threat has been implicated in anxiety disorders, traditional attentional bias measures have been criticized for lack of reliability and validity, and eye tracking technologies can be cost-prohibitive. MouseView.js was recently developed to mimic eye tracking online by using the computer cursor as a proxy for gaze, and although it is equally reliable, MouseView.js’ utility for capturing attentional bias for threat in anxiety-related disorders remains unclear. To fill this knowledge gap, snake phobic and non-phobic participants (N = 62) completed a behavioral avoidance task (BAT) and the MouseView.js task which consisted of 10-second exposures to blurred, side-by-side images of either pleasant-neutral or threat-neutral pairings and were instructed to freely move the mouse to reveal the images. Results demonstrated that snake phobic participants had significantly shorter average mouse dwell time on threat images than non-phobic individuals and showed a significant reduction in average dwell time on threat images following the first presentation of the threat-neutral pairing. Additionally, dwell time on threat images significantly mediated the group differences in steps completed on the BAT. Results highlight the utility of MouseView.js in capturing avoidant patterns of attentional bias for threat that may also partially drive avoidance in snake phobia. Implications for capturing attentional bias for threat in anxiety disorders more broadly are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102700
JournalJournal of Anxiety Disorders
Volume96
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The corresponding author received financial support from Vanderbilt University’s Institute for Clinical and Translational Research (VICTR # VR55688 ) and the American Psychological Foundation . The funding sources had no role in the collection, analysis, or interpretation of data, writing of the manuscript, or decision to submit the article for publication.

Funding Information:
The corresponding author received financial support from Vanderbilt University's Institute for Clinical and Translational Research (VICTR #VR55688) and the American Psychological Foundation. The funding sources had no role in the collection, analysis, or interpretation of data, writing of the manuscript, or decision to submit the article for publication.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Elsevier Ltd

Structured keywords

  • Health and Wellbeing (Psychological Science)
  • Mind and Brain (Psychological Science)

Keywords

  • Attentional bias
  • Specific phobia

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