Investigation of an attentional bias for fear-related material in obsessive-compulsive checkers

Steffen Moritz*, Adrian Von Mühlenen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


Prior studies on attentional biases in obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) have yielded conflicting results. Using a new methodology based on a spatial cueing paradigm, it was investigated whether OCD checkers display heightened vigilance for concern-related material or difficulties disengaging from such stimuli. Twenty-eight OCD patients, 21 of whom were checkers, were compared to 27 controls. In the spatial cueing paradigm task, patients and controls responded to a visual target at one out of two possible locations, which was preceded by a verbal cue word presented at the same or at the opposite location of the target. Cue words were either checking-relevant (e.g., doubt), neutral (e.g., box), or paranoia-related (e.g., spy). No evidence for an attentional bias in OCD checkers was found. This study is in accordance with previous studies, which were unable to detect attentional biases in OCD patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)225-229
Number of pages5
JournalDepression and Anxiety
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Anxiety
  • Attention
  • Attentional bias
  • Inhibition of return
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder


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