Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Orcutt, Holly K.

Degree Name

Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy)

Legacy Department

Department of Psychology


Recent research indicates that fear-related psychological disorders are a distinguished class of psychopathology, all of which share the underlying endophenotype of maladaptive acute fear responding. The relationship between maladaptive fear responding and psychopathology has been found to be moderated by executive functioning capacity—most notably attentional control. However, the current psychopathological nosology does not link fear-based disorders together. As a result, many fear-based disorders are treated separately with different evidence-based psychotherapies. These psychotherapies tend to focus on reducing phenotypic behaviors or self-reported experience of symptoms. Individuals with fear-based disorders may be better served by treatments that focus on the aforementioned endophenotypes such as attentional control. The Attention Training Technique (ATT) is a neurobehavioral treatment that has been shown to improve symptoms of many fear-based disorders in several studies and across a diverse set of clinical and non-clinical samples. The current studypresent study sought to examine the mechanisms of ATT in a sample with self-reported fear-based symptoms through a randomized controlled trial of ATT vs. a sham control condition. Results indicated that attentional control did not moderate the relationship between fear and fear-based psychopathology and was unrelated to either construct. However, results did indicate that fear and fear-based psychopathology were related to the alerting system of attention, rather than the executive attentional control system, and that fear-responding appears to partially mediate change in fear-based psychopathology. Implications for these findings with respect to psychiatric nosology and psychotherapy are discussed.


116 pages




Northern Illinois University

Rights Statement

In Copyright

Rights Statement 2

NIU theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from Huskie Commons for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without the written permission of the authors.

Media Type