Examining Attentional Bias in Scrupulosity: Null Findings From the Dot Probe Paradigm

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Research consistently demonstrates that individuals with anxiety symptoms exhibit attentional biases toward threatening stimuli using various computer-based tasks. However, the presence of attentional biases across obsessive-compulsive symptom presentations has been mixed and requires clarification. This study was the first to use the dot probe paradigm to investigate the association between scrupulosity symptoms (obsessions and compulsions having to do with religion and morality) and selective attention to scrupulosity-relevant lexical stimuli. Contrary to hypotheses, individuals with higher levels of scrupulosity did not selectively attend (i.e., have faster reaction times) to scrupulosity-specific threat words (e.g., hell) more so than to general threat or neutral words. Various potential explanations for these null findings, as well as directions for future research, are discussed.

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