PhD ceremony: Ms. M.S. Vroling, 13.15 uur, Academiegebouw, Broerstraat 5, Groningen
Title: Belief biased reasoning in anxiety disorders
Promotor(s): prof. P.J. de Jong
Faculty: Behavioural and Social Sciences
People suffering from anxiety disorders hold anxious convictions such as ‘If I feel my heart pounding, I am going to have a heart attack’. Most often, these people have had the opportunity to learn that their convictions are untrue. After all, everybody must have felt their heart pounding every now and then, yet in most people this will never have resulted in a heart attack. Still, people suffering from anxiety disorders firmly believe in this type of anxious convictions.
This thesis shows that people suffering from anxiety disorders have a tendency to judge information relevant to their anxiety based on the rough-and-ready rule ‘what I believe is true’. This implicit rule prevents anxious convictions from being corrected, even when disconfirming evidence if widely available.
It should be noted that not only people suffering from anxiety disorders make use of this rough-and-ready rule. When judging information regarding strongly held beliefs (like for instance ‘exercising is healthy’), almost everybody makes use of this rule. This thesis shows that people who heavily apply this rule tend to hold on to anxious notions that have been proven untrue longer than people with a lesser tendency to apply this rule. Because of this, people who heavily apply this rough-and-ready rule are at greater risk for developing an anxiety disorder.
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