Attentional Bias for Emotional Stimuli in Borderline Personality Disorder: A Meta-Analysis

Deborah Kaiser, Gitta A Jacob, Gregor Domes, Arnoud Arntz

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

BACKGROUND: In borderline personality disorder (BPD), attentional bias (AB) to emotional stimuli may be a core component in disorder pathogenesis and maintenance.

SAMPLING: 11 emotional Stroop task (EST) studies with 244 BPD patients, 255 nonpatients (NPs) and 95 clinical controls and 4 visual dot-probe task (VDPT) studies with 151 BPD patients or subjects with BPD features and 62 NPs were included.

METHODS: We conducted two separate meta-analyses for AB in BPD. One meta-analysis focused on the EST for generally negative and BPD-specific/personally relevant negative words. The other meta-analysis concentrated on the VDPT for negative and positive facial stimuli.

RESULTS: There is evidence for an AB towards generally negative emotional words compared to NPs (standardized mean difference, SMD = 0.311) and to other psychiatric disorders (SMD = 0.374) in the EST studies. Regarding BPD-specific/personally relevant negative words, BPD patients reveal an even stronger AB than NPs (SMD = 0.454). The VDPT studies indicate a tendency towards an AB to positive facial stimuli but not negative stimuli in BPD patients compared to NPs.

CONCLUSIONS: The findings rather reflect an AB in BPD to generally negative and BPD-specific/personally relevant negative words rather than an AB in BPD towards facial stimuli, and/or a biased allocation of covert attentional resources to negative emotional stimuli in BPD and not a bias in focus of visual attention. Further research regarding the role of childhood traumatization and comorbid anxiety disorders may improve the understanding of these underlying processes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)383-396
Number of pages14
JournalPsychopathology
Volume49
Issue number6
Early online date20 Sep 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Keywords

  • Borderline personality disorder
  • Emotion regulation
  • Attentional bias
  • Threat
  • Visual dot-probe task
  • Emotional Stroop task
  • Meta-analysis
  • STROOP TASK
  • CHILDHOOD MALTREATMENT
  • FEMALE ADOLESCENTS
  • FACIAL EXPRESSIONS
  • SOCIAL THREAT
  • ANXIETY
  • FACES
  • HYPERVIGILANCE
  • INTERFERENCE
  • PARADIGM

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