The primary objective of this study was to examine the influence of socio-emotional stimuli on the attentional blink (AB) in borderline personality disorder (BPD). Evidence suggests the importance of exploring attentional biases in BPD related to social signals. Major hypotheses were that 1) the experimental paradigm would elicit an AB across participants, and 2) individuals with high (versus low) BPD features would identify fewer targets following presentation of negative and neutral stimuli. Participants (N=140) recruited from university and community settings self-reported on BP features and related psychopathology, and then engaged in a modified AB task. Within this task, the first target (T1) at two lags (3 and 7) was alternately replaced by a face expressing three negative (anger, fear, sadness), one ambiguous (neutral), and one positive (happy) emotion, while the second (T2) was a letter embedded within a scrambled face. As expected, there was evidence for an AB across low- medium- and and high- BPD groups. Contrary to prediction, however, BPD features did not significantly affect task performance for any facial emotion. Findings are discussed in the context of study limitations and future directions for attentional bias research in BPD.
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Thesis advisor: Chapman, Alexander L.
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