Is believing seeing? The role of emotionrelated beliefs in selective attention to affective cues

  • Dennis P
  • Halberstadt A
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Abstract

Attentional disengagement from negative affective information and engagement toward positive affective information appears to reflect an avoidant coping mechanism, one that may be associated with the belief that negative emotions are dangerous or undesirable (BNED). To test this hypothesis, we conducted two studies using a dot-probe task measuring attentional preference among college undergraduates. In the first study, BNED was associated with an attentional preference for positive facial cues over negative facial cues, evident after 1000 ms of exposure. In the second study, we included three exposure-time conditions; BNED appeared to be associated with an early disengagement from negative facial cues between 500 and 750 ms post-exposure and a subsequent orientation toward positive facial cues between 750 and 1000 ms post-exposure. We discuss these results in relation to avoidant coping and the relationship between anxiety and attention to affective cues.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Affect
  • Attention
  • Beliefs about emotion
  • Coping
  • Multi-level modelling

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