Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Psychology


Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Dr Craig Speelman


The causal link between selective information processing biases and vulnerability to anxiety was investigated by examining change in emotional vulnerability as mediated by attentional training. Training was given on a modified dot-probe detection task, where participants were trained either to attend towards threat or towards neutral stimuli. Pre and post training assessment consisted of the anagram stress task (measure of emotional vulnerability), the dot-probe detection task (measure of training effectiveness), and the emotional Stroop task (measure of generalisation of training). The 54 undergraduate student participants, who were in a mid-range of trait anxiety, were randomly allocated to one of 3 orders in which to receive these tasks pre and post training. There was a failure to train selective attention overall, however there was success in training attention in one of the orders, where participants received the anagram stress task before assessment on the dot-probe task. There was no generalisation of training found on the emotional Stroop task. Due to the overall failure to train selective attention, and the finding of no change in emotional vulnerability, conclusions regarding causality and the underlying mechanism of change as measured by the emotional Stroop transfer task could not be made. Future research still needs to investigate whether training can transfer onto the emotional Stroop task.

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Psychology Commons