BORIS Theses

BORIS Theses
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Where expectation meets attention: the dynamic interplay between optimism bias and attention bias

Kress, Laura (2018). Where expectation meets attention: the dynamic interplay between optimism bias and attention bias. (Thesis). Universität Bern, Bern

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Optimism bias and positive attention bias are crucial components of healthy information processing. Even though recent theories (e.g., the combined cognitive biases hypothesis) suggest that different cognitive biases usually interact and mutually enforce each other, optimism bias and positive attention bias have mostly been examined separately. However, investigating dynamic interactions between the two biases can uncover how they maintain over time and thereby contribute to mental health. Thus, the goal of the current thesis was to investigate the interplay between optimism and attention bias and its underlying neural mechanisms. First, an integrative theoretical framework suggesting that optimism bias and positive attention bias mutually enforce each other and recruit a common neural network (e.g., comprising of the anterior cingulate cortex [ACC] and the limbic system) is presented. Furthermore, this framework proposes that biased memory processes may influence the optimism-attention interplay. Based on the ideas derived from this framework, two empirical studies have been conducted to demonstrate the influence of optimistic expectancies on attention deployment. In both studies, induced optimistic (and pessimistic) expectancies guided attention to expected rewarding (and punishing) information, whereas processing of unexpected information enhanced activity in the brain´s salience and executive control network (e.g., comprising of the insula, ACC, and posterior parietal cortex). Notably, these effects were stronger for optimistic than for pessimistic expectancies, supporting the idea that optimistic expectancies are particularly powerful in biasing attention to rewarding information. A subsequent empirical study additionally revealed that paying attention to positive information in turn enhances optimism bias. Specifically, performing a two-week attention bias modification training toward accepting and away from rejecting face stimuli increased optimism bias whereas performing a neutral control attention training did not. In sum, the studies reported in this thesis provide first empirical support for mutual optimism-attention interactions that can explain how the two biases maintain over time. Importantly, such dynamic optimism-attention interactions may instigate an upward spiral of positivity that protects mental health.

Item Type: Thesis
Dissertation Type: Single
Date of Defense: 2018
Additional Information: e-Dissertation (edbe)
Subjects: 100 Philosophy > 150 Psychology
600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health
Institute / Center: 07 Faculty of Human Sciences > Institute of Psychology > Experimental Psychology and Neuropsychology
Depositing User: Admin importFromBoris
Date Deposited: 25 Jan 2019 12:56
Last Modified: 31 Jan 2019 15:53

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