Information processing was examined in a sample of social phobic individuals using a revised version of the Stroop color-naming task. In the first of two experiments, the response latencies of social phobics and matched community controls were compared when color-naming socially threatening words, physically threatening words and color words. Social phobics demonstrated greater response latencies regardless of type of stimulus word and additional interference in color-naming social threat words compared to the control group. The second experiment examined the cognitive structural change that has been hypothesized to accompany successful treatment of individuals with an anxiety disorder. Social phobics who were treated with cognitive-behavioral group therapy, phenelzine or pill placebo were classified as treatment responders or nonresponders, and their latencies to color-naming on the Stroop task were compared. Treatment responders showed a significant reduction in latencies to color-name social threat words (vs matched control words) while nonresponders did not. This effect was not demonstrated with color words or physically threatening words. Clinical implications and future research directions are discussed.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Clinical Psychology
- Psychiatry and Mental health