The Reliability and Validity of Response-Based Measures of Attention Bias

Emily E.E. Meissel, Huiting Liu, Elizabeth S. Stevens, Travis C. Evans, Jennifer C. Britton, Allison M. Letkiewicz, Stewart A. Shankman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Attentional bias to threat is a fundamental transdiagnostic component and potential vulnerability factor for internalizing psychopathologies. However, the measurement of attentional bias, such as traditional scores from the dot-probe paradigm, evidence poor reliability and do not measure intra-individual variation in attentional bias. Methods: The present study examined, in three independent samples, the psychometric properties of a novel attentional bias (AB) scoring method of the dot-probe task based on responses to individual trials. For six AB scores derived using the response-based approach, we assessed the internal consistency, test–retest reliability, familial associations, and external validity (using Social Anxiety Disorder, a disorder strongly associated with attentional bias to threatening faces). Results: Compared to traditional AB scores, response-based scores had generally better internal consistency (range of Cronbach’s alphas: 0.68–0.92 vs. 0.41–0.71), higher test–retest reliabilities (range of Pearson’s correlations: 0.26–0.77 vs. − 0.05 to 0.35), and were more strongly related in family members (range of ICCs: 0.11–0.27 vs. 0–0.05). Furthermore, three response-based scores added incremental validity beyond traditional scores and gender in the external validators of current and lifetime Social Anxiety Disorder. Conclusions: Findings indicate that response-based AB scores from the dot-probe task have better psychometric properties than traditional scores.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalCognitive Therapy and Research
StateAccepted/In press - 2021


  • Attention bias
  • Masked faces
  • Psychometrics
  • Replication
  • Social anxiety disorder

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology


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