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Is cognitive bias modification training truly beneficial for adolescents?

Chan, S. W. Y., Lau, J. Y. F. and Reynolds, S. A. (2014) Is cognitive bias modification training truly beneficial for adolescents? Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 56 (11). pp. 1239-1248. ISSN 0021-9630

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1111/jcpp.12368


Background Cognitive Bias Modification (CBM) has been shown to change interpretation biases commonly associated with anxiety and depression and may help ameliorate symptoms of these disorders. However, its evidence base for adolescents is scarce. Previous results have been hard to interpret because of methodological issues. In particular, many studies have used negative bias training as the control condition. This would tend to inflate any apparent benefits of CBM compared to a neutral control. Most studies also only examined the effects of a single training session and lacked follow-up assessment or ecologically valid outcome measures. Method Seventy-four adolescents, aged 16–18 years, were randomised to two sessions of CBM training or neutral control. Interpretation bias and mood were assessed three times: at baseline, immediately post-training and 1 week post-training. A controlled experimental stressor was also used, and responses to everyday stressors were recorded for 1 week after training to assess responses to psychological challenges. Feedback for the training programme was collected. Results The CBM group reported a greater reduction in negative affect than control participants. However, other hypothesised advantages of CBM were not demonstrated. Regardless of training group, participants reported increased positive interpretations, decreased negative interpretations, reduced depressive symptoms and no change in trait anxiety. The two groups did not differ in their stress reactivity. After controlling for group differences in training performance, all the mood effects disappeared. Conclusions When tested under stringent experimental conditions the effects of CBM in healthy adolescents appear to be minimal. Future studies should concentrate on participants with elevated cognitive biases and/or mood symptoms who may be more sensitive to CBM.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Interdisciplinary centres and themes > Charlie Waller Institute
Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Department of Psychology
Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Anxiety and Depression in Young People (AnDY)
ID Code:43661

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