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  • Cannabis_MS_vABR_YPYW_v2.2

    Rights statement: Copyright © 2016 Published by Elsevier Ltd.

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Heavy cannabis use and attentional avoidance of anxiety-related stimuli

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>06/2016
<mark>Journal</mark>Addictive Behaviors Reports
Number of pages5
Pages (from-to)38-42
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date2/03/16
<mark>Original language</mark>English



Cannabis is now the most widely used illicit substance in the world. Previous research demonstrates that cannabis use is associated with dysfunctional affect regulation and anxiety. Anxiety is characterised by attentional biases in the presence of emotional information. This novel study therefore examined the attentional bias of cannabis users when presented with anxiety-related stimuli. The aim was to establish whether cannabis users respond to anxiety-related stimuli differently to control participants.


A dot-probe paradigm was utilised using 40 undergraduate students. Trials contained anxiety-related stimuli and neutral control stimuli. Eye-tracking was used to measure attention for the stimuli.


Results indicated that cannabis users demonstrated attentional-avoidance behaviour when presented with anxiety-related stimuli.


The findings suggest a difference in processing of emotional information in relation to neutral information between groups. It would appear that cannabis users avoid anxiety provoking stimuli. Such behaviour could potentially have motivational properties that could lead to exacerbating anxiety disorder-type behaviour.