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Searching compassion in a crowd: Evaluation of a novel compassion visual search task to reduce self-criticismMcEwan, Kirsten; Dandeneau, Stephane; Gilbert, Paul; Maratos, Frances; Andrew, Lucy; Chotai, Shivani; Elander, James; University of Derby (ECronicon Open Access, 2019-04-15)Background: The ability to appropriately process social stimuli such as facial expressions is crucial to emotion regulation and the maintenance of supportive interpersonal relationships. Cognitive Bias Modification Tasks (CBMTs) are being investigated as potential interventions for those who struggle to appropriately process social stimuli. Aims: Two studies aimed to assess the effectiveness of a novel computerised ‘Compassion Game’ CBMT compared with a validated ‘Self-Esteem Game’ (Study 1, n=66) and a Neutral Control Game (Study 2, n=59). Method: In each study, baseline, post-task, and one-month follow-up measures of 3 self-reported forms of self-criticism (inadequate self, hated self, and self-reassurance) were used to examine the benefits of two weeks’ attentional training. Results: Analyses show that the novel Compassion Game significantly reduced inadequate self-criticism at post and one-month follow-up (Studies 1 and 2) and increased self-reassurance (Study 1). Results also show that the Self-Esteem (Study 1) and the Neutral Control Game (Study 2), which also used social stimuli, produced reductions in inadequate self-criticism. Conclusions: Results suggest that training one’s attention toward social stimuli can improve inadequate self-criticism. Implications for the use of compassionate stimuli in such CBMTs are discussed.