European Journal of Psychotraumatology
Background: Exposure to chronic interpersonal violence (IPV) has been associated with psychiatric impairment; however, few studies have investigated attention processes and psychophysiology in this population. Objective: We investigated self-report and physiological correlates of attention biases in 27 IPV-exposed women. Method: Participants completed self-report measures of trauma history, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms, and dissociation; were monitored physiologically during baseline; and responded to an emotional dot probe task. Results: Participants showed bias away from positive and anxiety words, and toward IPV words. Lower baseline respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA) and higher skin conductance levels were associated with bias away from anxiety cues. Greater total PTSD symptoms were associated with bias toward IPV cues, and greater PTSD intrusion and avoidance symptoms were associated with lower RSA. Individuals exposed to more types of trauma had lower heart rates. Conclusions: These data extend the research on emotion-cognition interactions in PTSD and other anxiety disorders to chronic IPV survivors, in part confirming avoidance and intrusion symptom and attention bias relations found in studies. The present work also draws attention to a group that tends to experience a range of severe symptoms associated with apparent blunting in autonomic activity, and suggests that self-report may not be sensitive to physiological and attention alterations in chronic IPV samples.
Attention bias, Interpersonal violence, Posttraumatic stress disorder, Psychophysiology
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© 2013 Jonathan DePierro et al.
DePierro, Jonathan; D'Andrea, Wendy; and Pole, Nnamdi, "Attention Biases in Female Survivors of Chronic Interpersonal Violence: Relationship to Trauma-Related Symptoms and Physiology" (2013). Psychology: Faculty Publications, Smith College, Northampton, MA.