Debiasing of Pessimistic Judgments Associated with Anxiety: A Test of the Availability Heuristic
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- Bentz, B.G., Mahaffey, S.L., Adami, A.M. et al. J Psychopathol Behav Assess (2009) 31: 20. doi:10.1007/s10862-008-9090-4
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This investigation directly tested the Consider-An-Alternative debiasing procedure and the reduction of pessimistic threat-related judgments associated with anxiety. Two separate generation interventions were included to test the availability heuristic as a possible explanation of the debiasing effect. Participants were randomly assigned to one of three interventions and probability estimates of future threat-related events were completed in a repeated measures experimental design. Level of trait anxiety was measured to assign participants to “normal” and highly anxious groups. The data were analyzed in a 3 × 2 × 2 mixed factorial repeated measures ANOVA. The results found that only the short debiasing intervention showed a significant reduction of pessimistic judgments in comparison to the control group. The results were interpreted as supporting the availability heuristic as an explanation of the debiasing effect. Further analysis also suggested that the content of recall may be as important to the debiasing effect as ease of recall.