Modifying interpretation biases: Effects on symptomatology, behavior, and physiological reactivity in social anxiety
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BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: The present study investigated the effects of computerized interpretation training and cognitive restructuring on symptomatology, behavior, and physiological reactivity in an analogue social anxiety sample. METHODS: Seventy-two participants with elevated social anxiety scores were randomized to one session of computerized interpretation training (n = 24), cognitive restructuring (n = 24), or an active placebo control condition (n = 24). Participants completed self-report questionnaires focused on interpretation biases and social anxiety symptomatology at pre and posttraining and a speech task at posttraining during which subjective, behavioral, and physiological measures of anxiety were assessed. RESULTS: Only participants in the interpretation training condition endorsed significantly more positive than negative interpretations of ambiguous social situations at posttraining. There was no evidence of generalizability of interpretation training effects to self-report measures of interpretation biases and symptomatology or the anxiety response during the posttraining speech task. Participants in the cognitive restructuring condition were rated as having higher quality speeches and showing fewer signs of anxiety during the posttraining speech task compared to participants in the interpretation training condition. LIMITATIONS: The present study did not include baseline measures of speech performance or computer assessed interpretation biases. CONCLUSIONS: The results of the present study bring into question the generalizability of computerized interpretation training as well as the effectiveness of a single session of cognitive restructuring in modifying the full anxiety response. Clinical and theoretical implications are discussed.
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