Assessing attentional biases in bereaved individuals using the dot-probe paradigm
Grief is a multi-faceted response to the loss of someone to which a bond was formed (Worden, 1991). Bereaved individuals have been shown to demonstrate diminished cognitive performance on tasks assessing attention, information-processing speed, and verbal fluency (Ward, Mathias & Hitchings, 2007). The dot-probe task is a paradigm commonly used to assess attentional biases in affective disorders (MacLeod, Mathews & Tata, 1986), but very few studies have utilized the dot-probe task to assess attentional biases in bereavement. In the current study, two groups (i.e., bereaved and non-bereaved) will complete a computerized dot probe task consisting of grief-related words, negatively-valenced words, and positively-valenced words. We hypothesize that the bereaved group will exhibit an attentional bias toward grief-related information as well as toward general negative emotional information, while the non-bereaved group will exhibit an attentional bias toward positive emotional information. Implications for targeting attentional retraining to bereaved individuals using the dot-probe task will be discussed.