Background: Attention bias for socially threatening information, an empirically supported phenomenon, figures prominently in models of social phobia. However, all published studies examining this topic to date have relied on group means to describe attention bias patterns; research has yet to examine potential subgroups of attention bias among individuals with social phobia (e.g., vigilant or avoidant). Furthermore, almost no research has examined how attention biases in either direction may predict change in symptoms as a result of treatment. Methods: This study (N = 24) compared responses to cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for social phobia between individuals with avoidant and vigilant biases for threatening faces at pretreatment. Results: Participants with avoidant biases reported significantly and clinically higher symptom levels at posttreatment than did those with vigilant biases. Conclusions: These findings suggest that an avoidant attention bias may be associated with reduced response to CBT for social phobia. © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
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