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Claus, Nathalie ORCID: 0000-0002-4081-4952; Takano, Keisuke ORCID: 0000-0003-0406-8654; Wittekind, Charlotte E. ORCID: 0000-0002-5841-0067 (2023): The interplay between cognitive biases, attention control, and social anxiety symptoms: A network and cluster approach. PLOS ONE, 18 (4): e0282259. ISSN 1932-6203

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Claus et al (2023) Social Anxiety Cognitive (Dys)Functions.pdf

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Cognitive models of social anxiety highlight the importance of different cognitive biases (e.g., attention bias, interpretation bias) and executive dysfunctions, which have, however, mostly been investigated in isolation. The present study explored their interplay using two statistical approaches: (1) network analysis to identify the unique associations between cognitive functions, and (2) cluster analysis to reveal how these associations (or combinations) are manifested in a population. Participants from the general population (N = 147) completed measures of attention control, attention bias, interpretation bias, and social anxiety symptoms. Network analysis showed an association between social anxiety symptoms and interpretation bias, although no other significant associations emerged. Cluster analysis identified a group of participants characterized by an adaptive cognitive pattern (i.e., low cognitive biases, good executive function); and a group exhibiting a more maladaptive pattern (i.e., high interpretation bias, good alerting but poor executive function). The maladaptive group showed higher levels of social anxiety than the adaptive group. Results highlight the strong association between social anxiety symptoms and interpretation bias, while challenging the putative role of attention bias. Attention control, particularly executive function, may limit the impact of cognitive bias on anxiety symptoms.

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