Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Orcutt, Holly K.

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Psychology


Background: An unacceptably large proportion of individuals remain symptomatic after receiving first-line interventions. The attention training technique (ATT) is a potentially effective treatment augmentation and standalone treatment that may help improve the treatment of psychological disorders. The machanisms of therapuetic change of ATT remain understudied. This study is a randomized controlled trial of ATT compared to progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) that examined mindfulness and attentional control as potential mechisms of therapeutic change.

Method: A convenience sample of 64 participants (Mage = 20.13, SD = 3.65; 42.2% Male; 64.1% non-Hispanic White; 23.4% Black; 9.4% Hispanic/Latino; 3.1% Other) were randomly assigned to receive daily ATT or PMR sessions for one week via a smartphone application. Participants reported their attentional control and mindfulness after each session. Attentional control, metacognitions, and psychological symptoms were assessed via self-report immediately before the intervention and after one week.

Results: Hierarchical linear modeling (HLM) assessed changes over time. The impact of experimental group assignment on the effect of time on attentional control was not significant,  = -0.174, t(309) = -0.903, p = 0.370. Additional analyses related to symptom reduction, attentional control, metacognitions, validity of self-report attentional control, and study design feasibility are reported.

Discussion: The study results indicated that ATT and PMR are similar interventions. The study design was unable to identify a mechanism of therapeutic change that was unique to either intervention. The implications for self-report attentional control and study design feasibility are also discussed along with study limitations and future directions.


118 pages




Northern Illinois University

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