PhD defence N.H.A. (Nouran) AlMoghrabi


Prof.dr. I.H.A. Franken


Dr. J. Huijding


Dr. B.N. Mayer

Thursday 5 Mar 2020, 13:30 - 15:00
PhD defence
Senate Hall
Erasmus Building
Campus Woudestein
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On Thursday 5 March 2020, N.H.A. AlMoghrabi will defend her PhD dissertation, entitled: ‘Cognitive Bias Modification for Aggression-Related Biases of Attention and Interpretation’.

Advances in understanding the role of cognitive biases of attention and interpretation in aggression have led to a significant new interest in applying this knowledge to intervention research (de Castro, Veerman, Koops, Joop, & Monshouwer, 2002; Troop-Gordon, Gordon, Vogel-Ciernia, Lee, & Visconti, 2018). Results of the first intervention studies have shown that modifying a specific information processing bias using the cognitive bias modification (CBM) paradigm could result in the modification of the targeted bias and significant anger and aggression reduction (e.g., Hawkins & Cougle, 2013; Vassilopoulos, Brouzos & Andreou, 2015). However, at the start of this dissertation project, aggression studies were limited in their examination of the effects of CBM paradigms targeting interpretations (CBM-I). Additionally, there had not been any studies on the effectiveness of cognitive bias modification paradigms targeting attention (CBM-A) on both bias and symptom reduction in the context of aggression. Moreover, in aggression studies, interpretation biases were typically assessed and trained in isolation using vignettes describing hypothetical provocative social situations in which the intention of the harm-doer is ambiguous (e.g., Hawkins & Cougle, 2013; Vassilopoulos et al., 2015). However, in real-life situations, visual nonverbal cues such as facial and physical expressions carry important signs regarding the internal state of others, including their intentions (Cadesky, Mota, & Schachar, 2000). This raises the question of whether including visual ambiguous social scenes in the training procedure might provide a more information-rich and naturalistic context, which increases the effect of the training procedure on both interpretation and attention biases. Therefore, the aim of the present dissertation was to examine whether a novel CBM procedure using pictorial stimuli can be used to modify attention and interpretation biases in the context of aggression and examine the effect of those modifications on aggression. Additionally, the cognitive bias hypothesis suggests that cognitive biases are interrelated and that training procedures that target a combination of biases have a greater impact on disorders than targeting a cognitive process in isolation (Hirsch, Clark, & Mathews, 2006). This raises the question of how cognitive biases of attention and interpretation might interact and contribute to aggressive behavior. Also, it raises the question whether there is an added value of a combined bias training targeting both attention and interpretation bias relative to a single bias training in both bias and aggression reduction.  Thus, in order to examine whether it is possible to modify aggression by modifying one's attention and interpretation biases and examine the use of pictorial stimuli in boosting more training effects, the present research project focused on answering the following four questions: (1) Can a novel CBM training procedure using pictorial stimuli be used to change interpretation and attention biases in the context of aggression?; (2) Do changes in attention or interpretation biases lead to changes in aggression?; (3) How do attention and interpretation biases interact in maintaining aggression?; and (4) Is a combined bias CBM training procedure more effective than a single bias CBM training procedure on both bias and aggression reduction?

The public defence will take place at the Senatehall, 1st floor of the Erasmus Building, Campus Woudestein. The ceremony will begin exactly at 13.30 hrs. In light of the solemn nature of the ceremony, we recommend that you do not take children under the age of 6 to the first part of the ceremony.

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