Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Committee Member

Daniel Allen

Second Committee Member

Bradley Donohue

Third Committee Member

Stephen Benning

Fourth Committee Member

Lisa Bendixen

Number of Pages



Social information processing (SIP) theory suggests a framework for understanding how individuals make sense of their world—from the cognitive tasks of perception and problem solving to the emotional tasks of integrating this information with one’s goals, motivational state, and arousal regulation. This framework has been integral for better understanding the etiology behind certain psychopathologies (such as depression or disruptive behavior disorders) as it is thought that bias early in attentional processes may have trickle down effects on later processing and decision making (Dodge, 1993). It is known that the attention biases early in the SIP model (e.g., encoding biases) differ among disorders such as depression and those such as oppositional defiance disorder (ODD). Therefore, using a SIP framework for better understanding severe and chronic irritability, a construct with significant overlap with both depressive and disruptive behavior disorders (Freeman et al., 2016; Mayes et al., 2016; Stringaris & Goodman, 2009) could be helpful for offering insight into disorders characterized by severe and chronic irritability (e.g., Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder [DMDD]). The purpose of this present study was to apply a SIP framework, using eyetracking methodology to measure attentional capture within 257 participants, to illuminate on the possible attention biases that may be present within individuals who experience severe and chronic irritability. Results indicated that individuals high in irritability do not display unique attention bias towards either hostile or dysphoric stimuli. This has important implications for our understanding of the construct of irritability, especially as in recent years debate has been ongoing as to whether irritability should best be conceptualized as a separate, unique disorder similar to depression or as a symptom of an already existing externalizing disorder (e.g., ODD).


Attention bias; Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder; Encoding bias; Irritability


Clinical Psychology

File Format


File Size

1370 KB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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