Strategic coping responses and attentional biases

Linda Luecken, Jessica Tartaro, Brad Appelhans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


This study investigated relations among affective distress, voluntary coping strategies, and attentional biases. University students (n = 63, 75% Caucasian) completed a "dot probe" computer task that presented supraliminal (conscious) and subliminal (below conscious awareness) social threat words. Order of task presentation (supraliminal vs. subliminal) was randomly determined. Results found that for those completing the supraliminal task first, attentional avoidance of supraliminal threat words was associated with higher anxiety and depressive symptoms, negative current mood, and an avoidant coping style. In contrast, bias towards subliminal threat words was associated with depressive symptoms, trait anxiety, avoidant coping and negative mood, and less primary control coping. However, few relationships among supraliminal or subliminal bias and coping or affect were evident when participants completed the subliminal task first. Findings suggest that when primed by consciously available cues, strategic coping processes may influence attentional biases at both supraliminal and subliminal levels of presentation. Clinical interventions aimed at improving cognitive coping skills may benefit treatment of affective disorders partially through influences on information-processing characteristics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)23-37
Number of pages15
JournalCognitive Therapy and Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2004


  • Anxiety
  • Attentional bias
  • Coping
  • Depression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology


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