Cognitive Therapy and Research

, Volume 38, Issue 5, pp 505–517 | Cite as

Using Cognitive Bias Modification to Deflate Responsibility in Compulsive Checkers

  • Jessica R. GrishamEmail author
  • Lauren Becker
  • Alishia D. Williams
  • Alexis E. Whitton
  • Steve R. Makkar
Original Article


Cognitive-behavioural models of compulsive checking posit a dominant role for beliefs regarding one’s responsibility to prevent harm. In the current study we employed a computerised cognitive bias modification of interpretation (CBM-I) paradigm to target and modify responsibility biases in a sample of undergraduate students with high levels of checking symptoms (N = 100). Participants were randomly assigned to either a positive (decrease responsibility bias) or negative (increase responsibility bias) CBM-I training condition. Relative to participants in the negative training condition, participants in the positive training condition demonstrated reduced responsibility bias in a subsequent interpretive bias test. Positive training also resulted in more adaptive physiological responding during a responsibility stressor task. There were no differential effects of CBM-I training, however, on observed or self-reported checking or self-reported responsibility beliefs. In light of these mixed findings, we outline future avenues for improving the efficacy of CBM-I training targeting responsibility biases.


Obsessive–compulsive disorder Cognitive bias modification Responsibility Checking 


Conflict of Interest

Jessica R. Grisham, Lauren Becker, Alishia D. Williams, Alexis E. Whitton and Steve R. Makkar declare that they have no conflict of interest. The first author was supported in part by a Discovery Project grant from the Australian Research Council (DP0984560). The third author was supported by a National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia Fellowship (630746).

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained prior to participation and approval was given by the UNSW Human Research Ethics Advisory Panel.

Animal Rights

No animal studies were carried out by the authors for this article.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jessica R. Grisham
    • 1
    Email author
  • Lauren Becker
    • 1
  • Alishia D. Williams
    • 2
  • Alexis E. Whitton
    • 1
  • Steve R. Makkar
    • 3
  1. 1.School of PsychologyUniversity of New South WalesSydneyAustralia
  2. 2.The Clinical Research Unit for Anxiety and Depression, School of PsychiatryUniversity of New South WalesSydneyAustralia
  3. 3.The Sax InstituteSydneyAustralia

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