Information Processing and Anxiety Sensitivity: Cognitive Vulnerability to Panic Reflected in Interpretation and Memory Biases
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The relationship between panic and anxiety sensitivity (AS) has been well established. Further, cognitive theories of panic have received substantial support through demonstrations of cognitive biases toward threatening information. However, past research has produced mixed findings on whether AS is itself associated with biased information processing. To explore this question, the current study examined evidence for and relationships among attention (on a modified Stroop), interpretation (using the Brief Body Sensations Interpretation Questionnaire), and schematic/memory biases (on Implicit Association Tests) in individuals with high (N = 55) and low (N = 48) AS. Results indicated interpretation and memory biases favoring threat among the high AS group, but no attentional bias. Further, the memory bias was positively related to the interpretation bias and to measures of anxiety and panic, offering the first evidence for a schema potentially related to the development of panic. Findings are discussed regarding implications for cognitive models of vulnerability.
Keywordsanxiety sensitivity interpretation information processing bias panic schema
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