The hostile attribution bias (HAB) is a tendency to interpret malevolent intentions when confronted by ambiguous actions of others. Much research has been conducted to examine the relationship between HAB and aggression, but little on HAB and other personality traits; further, comparatively little research has examined whether strategies like metacognition can reduce HAB. This project examines the relationship between HAB and trait anxiety and whether a metacognitive manipulation reduces HAB. In Study 1, participants filled out a survey questionnaire containing the Beck Anxiety Inventory to measure trait anxiety and both the W-SAP and the hostility section of the Aggression Questionnaire to measure HAB. Our results showed that trait anxiety and HAB had a positive correlation using both methods of detecting hostility, even when negative affect was accounted for. In Study 2, participants filled out the Beck Anxiety Inventory to measure trait anxiety, were either shown a definition of HAB or shown the definition and asked to correct for HAB, and filled out the W-SAP to measure HAB levels. Overall analyses revealed that compared to a true control condition, the metacognition manipulation reduced the link between trait anxiety and HAB. This means that those with higher trait anxiety are more likely to experience HAB and have it harm their social lives, but also that our metacognition manipulation can potentially not just reduce the link, but eliminate it entirely. This study needs to be replicated before we can definitively draw conclusions, but still guides us to a potential new method for reducing HAB in anxious individuals.
Dr. Ashley Hansen-Brown, Thesis Advisor
Dr. Stephanie Penley, Committee Member
Dr. Michael Root, Committee Member
Copyright and Permissions
Original document was submitted as an Honors Program requirement. Copyright is held by the author.
Gracia, Sarah. (2021). Hidden Links: Trait Anxiety and the Hostile Attribution Bias. In BSU Honors Program Theses and Projects. Item 473. Available at: https://vc.bridgew.edu/honors_proj/473
Copyright © 2021 Sarah Gracia