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Attentional Bias in Individuals with Different Level of Self-Esteem

Author: LiHaiJiang
Tutor: ZhangQingLin
School: Southwestern University
Course: Developmental and Educational Psychology
Keywords: Self-esteem Attentional bias Attentional Vigilance Difficulty in disengaging of attention rejection
CLC: B842
Type: Master's thesis
Year: 2012
Downloads: 373
Quote: 1
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Attentional bias can also be seen as a selective attention. It refers to some individuals with different emotional disorders exist priority processing on some special information. For example, clinical anxiety individuals show attentional bias toward threats information relative to normal individuals. Previous studies found that low self-esteem individuals possess a rejection-related attentional bias. However, Previous studies concerning the attentional biases of individuals with low self-esteem have generally relied on behavioral data (e.g., response times). The limitation of this approach is that these behaviors are indirect measures of attention that require inferences to connect the observed behavior with attentional orientation. This may be problematic because the behavior may not accurately reflect attentional shifts. More direct way to research the relation between attentional bias and low self-esteem is needed. Therefore, the present study will attempt to extend what is known about the physiological responses of low self-esteem individuals to rejection cues by examining the time course of their neurophysiological responses to rejection-related stimuli using event-related potentials (ERPs). In addition, there is no study to explore the mechanism of attenional bias for rejection among individuals with low self-esteem. Attentional biases towards threat may be comprised of facilitated attention to threat and difficulty disengaging attention away from threat. Facilitated attention refers to the relative ease or speed with which attention is drawn to a threat stimulus (i.e., attentional orienting). Difficulty in disengaging refers to the degree to which a threat stimulus captures attention and impairs switching attention from the threat to another stimulus. In addition, previous studies just examined the modulation of explicit self-esteem on attention, it is still unclear the effects of implicit self-esteem on attention. Therefore, the present study first aimed to explore low self-esteem participants’attentional bias for rejection using ERPs:and then explore the mechanism of attentional bias among individuals with low self-esteem; at last explore the effects of implicit self-esteem on attention bias. Study 1, Event-related potentials (ERPs) and behavioral data were recorded while participants performed an attention shifting task. Behavioral results didn’t reveal any significant between rejection and acceptance among low and high self-esteem participants. ERPs results revealed that P1 amplitude to the rejection cue was higher in the low self-esteem relative to the high self-esteem participants regardless of social evaluative cue (acceptance/rejection/neutral). What is more, rejection cue evoked greater P2 amplitude than acceptance and neutral cues among individuals with low self-esteem. There was no such difference among HSE participants. In addition, P2 amplitudes of those with low self-esteem were greater than those of high self-esteem individuals in response to the rejection cues, rather than to the acceptance and neutral cues. The findings suggest that rejection as stressors pose a threat to the social self for low self-esteem individuals, and that explains why LSE individuals show greater physiological reactivity to rejection stimuli relative to acceptance and neutral at an early temporal stage.Study 2, Spatial cueing task were used to examine the mechanism of attentional bias for rejection among individuals with explicit low self-esteem or different levels of implicit self-esteem. Rejection, acceptance or neutral were cues were used in spatial cueing task. The results revealed that explicit low self-esteem individuals showed significantly longer response latencies when the cues was "rejection" relative to "neutral" and "acceptance" on invalid trials. There is no significant difference on social evaluative cues on valid trials among explicit low self-esteem participants. No significant effects were found among explicit high self-esteem participants. These findings suggested that attentional bias in explicit low self-esteem participants reflect a difficulty in disengaging from rejection. High implicit self-esteem individuals took longer time to response to a target when the evaluative cue was "rejection" or "acceptance" relative to "neutral" on invalid trials.In conclusion, the present study provided direct evidence for that people with low self-esteem report greater responses to rejection. What’s more, attentional bias in explicit low self-esteem participants reflects a difficulty in disengaging from rejection; while attentional bias in high implicit self-esteem individuals may reflect a selectively attentional maintenance on the evaluative stimuli, hence they were more easily affected by evaluative cues and behaved as though they were hard to disengage from them.

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