Date of Award

Summer 1-1-2020

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts In Clinical Psychology Degree

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Yaroslavsky, Ilya

Second Advisor

Eric Allard

Third Advisor

Elizabeth Goncy

Abstract

Several models suggest that anxious individuals suffer from deficits in emotion regulation. However, cognitive reappraisal has shown to effectively reduce anxiety. Deficits in attentional control have been theorized as a possible underlying mechanism of emotion regulation and may moderate the association between cognitive reappraisal and anxiety. Therefore, the present study examined the moderating role of attentional control on the effects of cognitive reappraisal on anxiety symptomology via multiple methodologies in a sample of adolescents. Community dwelling adolescents (N=51) completed measures of anxiety symptoms, the habitual use of cognitive reappraisal, an attention disengagement eye tracking task, and an 8-day Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA) protocol that measured hourly peak and current ratings of nervousness. Multiple moderation models were fit to examine study hypotheses. Contrary to expectation, neither of the hypotheses were supported and cognitive reappraisal was found to be unrelated to self-reported anxiety symptoms and ratings of nervousness in daily life. However, slower disengagement from disgusted faces significantly predicted increased anxiety symptoms. Interestingly, slower disengagement from sad faces significantly predicted less change in peak to current nervousness. Results suggest that an attention disengagement task may be used as a preventative or screening measure for those who have subthreshold levels of anxiety.

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