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Attentional bias in psoriasis: The role of processing time and emotional valence

Etty, Sarah; George, David N.; van Laarhoven, Antoinette; Kleyn, C. Elise; Walton, Shernaz; Holle, Henning


Sarah Etty

Antoinette van Laarhoven

C. Elise Kleyn

Shernaz Walton

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Dr Henning Holle
Reader in Psychology / Leader of Cognitive and Clinical Neuroscience group (


Purpose: The present study explored whether people with psoriasis display an attentional bias towards disease-related threat words and whether this bias occurs relatively early during the phase of stimulus disengagement, or during a later maintained attention phase dominated by controlled strategic processes. We also explored the degree to which attentional bias is dependent on the emotional valence of control words. Methods: Individuals with psoriasis and matched controls took part in 4 online experiments. Participants completed a spatial cueing paradigm using disease-related threat words and control words as cues, in order to obtain reaction time estimates of attentional bias. Results: We did not observe evidence for attentional bias when control words were matched with threat words for emotional valence, regardless of whether processing time for the cues was limited (Experiment 1: SOA = 250 ms) or extended (Experiment 2: SOA = 1050 ms). We also did not observe evidence for attentional bias when control words of positive valence were used, but processing time was limited (Experiment 3). An attentional bias was only observed (p =.012, Cohen's d =.37) when sufficient processing time was available and positively-valanced control words were used (Experiment 4). Conclusion: Rather than showing large and generalized AB effects as predicted by previous accounts, our results tentatively suggest that AB in psoriasis is restricted to situations where participants have ample processing time and threat words are easily distinguishable from control words on the basis of emotional valence. The pattern of results suggests that attentional bias in psoriasis is best characterized as a relatively slow strategic process.


Etty, S., George, D. N., van Laarhoven, A., Kleyn, C. E., Walton, S., & Holle, H. (in press). Attentional bias in psoriasis: The role of processing time and emotional valence. British Journal of Health Psychology,

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Nov 28, 2023
Online Publication Date Dec 11, 2023
Deposit Date Dec 4, 2023
Publicly Available Date Dec 12, 2024
Journal British Journal of Health Psychology
Print ISSN 1359-107X
Electronic ISSN 2044-8287
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Keywords Depression; Hypervigilance; Maintained attention; Psoriasis; Psychosocial impact
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