Investigating the Role of Intolerance of Uncertainty in GAD Using a Probe Discrimination Task

2015-07-21T00:00:00Z (GMT) by Alexander A. Jendrusina
Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) has received increasing attention over the years, leading to multiple conceptualizations of the condition. One model in particular, the intolerance of uncertainty model (IUM; Dugas, Gagnon, Ladouceur, & Freeston, 1998), posits that individuals with GAD have an intolerance of uncertainty (IU) in which they respond negatively to uncertainty on an emotional, cognitive, and behavioral level. Furthermore, IU may be conceptualized as a cognitive bias through which individuals experience and interpret their environments. To further examine the role of IU in GAD, participants with and without GAD completed a probe discrimination task (MacLeod, Mathews, & Tata, 1986) using both general threat- and uncertainty-related stimuli. We hypothesized that relative to NonGAD participants, GAD participants would demonstrate an attentional bias toward both threat-related and uncertainty-related words. Although our results replicated findings regarding a pre-attentive attentional bias toward general threat-related stimuli, we did not find evidence of an attentional bias toward uncertainty-related stimuli. Implications of these findings are discussed.