Cognitive Therapy and Research

, Volume 27, Issue 6, pp 681–696 | Cite as

Dysregulation in High-Anxious Female Prisoners: Attentionally Mediated?

  • Donal G. MacCoon
  • Joseph P. Newman


Psychopathy is associated with specific information processing anomalies that hamper self-regulation (e.g., poor passive avoidance) in male offenders, but recent studies have found that anxiety—rather than psychopathy—appears to predict poor passive avoidance in female offenders. To clarify the association between attention and dysregulation in anxious offenders, this study used a computerized picture–word task to test 2 competing perspectives on how anxiety moderates attention to distracting cues in female inmates. The 3-pathway model (J. P. Newman & J. F. Wallace, 1993) hypothesizes that anxious individuals (identified as neurotic introverts) will show narrowed attention to relevant task cues and thus will show less interference due to irrelevant distractors. The second perspective, derived from substantial evidence that anxious individuals are vigilant to threat cues, suggests that neurotic introverts will show vigilance to irrelevant distractors only if they are threatening. Results suggest a synthesis between the two perspectives that clarifies both the attentional mechanisms involved in anxiety and their relation to dysregulation.

attention regulation anxiety female prisoners 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Madison–WisconsinMadison
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Madison–WisconsinMadison

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