Differential processing of emotionally laden cues in adult children of alcoholics and controls Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/gb19fb13w

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  • The primary purpose of the present study was to investigate a specific area of cognitive functioning to determine if any differences exist between adult children of alcoholics and controls in the processing of emotionally laden word cues. Of secondary importance was the investigation of group differences in self-esteem, extroversion, neuroticism, and attentional control. A modified version of the Stroop Colour Naming Task was used to investigate selective processing of word cues in a sample of 37 adult children of alcoholics (ACOAs) and 37 adult children of non alcoholics (non ACOAs). All subjects were university students who volunteered for the study. The original form of this task required subjects to name the color of ink in which a word was printed while ignoring word content. Modified versions of this task substitute target words and control words for the words standardly used in order to investigate attentional bias for relevant word cues. As predicted, ACOAs were significantly slower than non ACOAs on this task. There was also a significant group x word type interaction. Compared to non ACOAs, ACOAs displayed a significant attentional bias in favor of alcohol and social threat words compared to neutral and positive words as evidenced by increased response times on the Stroop Task. There was also a significant main effect for word type with response time slowest for alcohol words and fastest for positive words. There were no significant group differences in self-esteem, extroversion, neuroticism, or attentional control. The results were discussed in terms of a generalized attentional deficit for the overall slower response time exhibited by the ACOA group. The more specialized Stroop effect of attentional bias for alcohol and social threat words was discussed in terms of the development of danger schemata based on previous life experiences perceived to be threatening.
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