THE EFFECT OF INTOLERANCE OF UNCERTAINTY ON ATTENTION BIASES AS INDICATED BY PERFORMANCE ON THE EMOTIONAL STROOP AND DOT-PROBE TASK
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Anxiety disorders affect about 28.8% of the United States population at some time in their lifetime. Current theoretical models of anxiety disorders include cognitive constructs that are believed to play a crucial role in the etiology and maintenance of these disorders. Intolerance of uncertainty is one such cognitive construct, and it has been defined as a negative emotional, cognitive, or behavioral response to uncertain situations and events. Intolerance of uncertainty results in selective encoding and interpretation of information, such that people with high intolerance of uncertainty pay more attention to uncertain stimuli, go through greater elaborative encoding of uncertain information, have enhanced recollection of uncertain stimuli, and have a greater tendency to interpret such stimuli as threatening. Studies investigating processing biases in intolerance of uncertainty have used verbal-linguistic stimuli and have assessed biases during the interpretive and elaborative phase of information processing. The current study investigates intolerance of uncertainty as a moderator in the relationship between anxiety and information processing biases. Attention biases were assessed with the emotional Stroop task (using neutral words, threatening words, and words denoting uncertainty), and the dot-probe task (using photographs displaying faces with neutral or fearful expression). Contrary to our hypothesis, IU was not a moderator in the relationship between anxiety and automatic information processing biases. Additionally, we found no evidence of a relationship between IU and reaction times in the emotional Stroop and dot-probe task. Unexpectedly, the current study did not demonstrate a relationship between anxiety and automatic information processing biases.