Interpretation bias modification for hostility: A randomized clinical trial

Martijn W. van Teffelen*, Jill Lobbestael, Marisol J. Voncken, Jesse R. Cougle, Frenk Peeters

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

Objective: Hostility is a transdiagnostic phenomenon that can have a profound negative impact on interpersonal functioning and psychopathological severity. Evidence suggests that cognitive bias modification for interpretation bias (CBM-I) potentially reduces hostility. However, stringent efficacy studies in people with clinical levels of hostility are currently lacking. Method: The present study investigated the effects of CBM-I in two studies: one feasibility study (Study 1) in a mixed clinical-community sample of men (N = 29), and one randomized clinical study (Study 2) in a mixed-gender sample with clinical levels of hostility (N = 135), pre-registered at https://osf.io/r46jn. We expected that CBM-I would relate to a larger increase in benign interpretation bias and larger reductions in hostile interpretation bias, hostility symptoms and traits, and general psychiatric symptoms at post-intervention compared to an active control (AC) condition. We also explored the beneficial carry-over effects of CBM-I on working alliance in subsequent psychotherapy 5 weeks after finishing CBM-I (n = 17). Results: Results showed that CBM-I increased benign interpretation bias in both studies and partially reduced hostile interpretation bias in Study 2, but not in Study 1. Findings of Study 2 also showed greater reductions in behavioral (but not self-reported) aggression in CBM-I relative to control, but no condition differences were found in self-report hostility measures and general psychiatric symptoms. Conclusions: Overall, we found modest support for CBM-I as an intervention for hostility, with some evidence of its efficacy for hostile interpretation bias and aggression. We discuss study limitations as well as directions for future research. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)421-434
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology
Volume89
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2021

Keywords

  • cognitive bias modification for interpretation bias
  • hostile interpretation bias
  • hostility
  • anger
  • aggression
  • COGNITIVE-BEHAVIORAL THERAPY
  • WORKING ALLIANCE
  • SCREENING SCALES
  • TRAIT ANGER
  • AGGRESSION
  • ANXIETY
  • VALIDATION
  • DEPRESSION
  • DISORDER
  • PSYCHOTHERAPY

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