Examining the interaction between cognition and emotion has a long tradition in research on emotional disorders. Indeed, many theories place great emphasis on the role of cognitive processes, such as attention and memory, in the onset and maintenance of these disorders. Biases in attention, for example, have been identified as central characteristics of depression and anxiety and have been linked to the difficulties in emotion regulation that define these disorders. Despite these important findings, it remains unclear what underlies these biases and an integration of current cognitive theories of attention with clinical research seems essential to answering this important question. The relational theory of attention presents important new information on how attention works, how relevant information is selected from complex environments, and how irrelevant information is ignored. The emphasis on context dependence suggests a radically different way to understand these processes, and this commentary tries to outline some implications for research on emotional disorders.
- Attentional bias
- Emotion regulation
- Interpretation bias
- Relational theory of attention
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)