Mobile phone addiction is a behavioral addiction that leads to physical and psychological maladaptation. Researchers have focused on the attentional bias of cognitive cues while neglecting the role of emotional information. The main debate concerning emotional information has been on whether its associated attentional bias is caused by different types of emotional information or only by negative emotional information. We investigated the specific information processing mechanism that lies behind mobile phone addicts’ attentional bias towards emotional information. In this study, behavioral experiments were performed using the dot-probe paradigm. The results showed that high-level mobile phone addicts (MPAs) have attentional bias towards negative emotional information. In order to understand the mechanism of attentional bias more precisely, a follow up study was carried out using eye movement techniques. The results of this follow up study found that, compared with the normal use group, high-level MPAs’ eyes tended to fixate first on negative faces, and significantly more on negative faces than on positive faces. When high-level MPAs demonstrated attentional bias towards negative faces, their first fixation duration was significantly longer than those for positive faces. However, there was no overall attention maintenance of negative emotional information. We conclude that mobile phone addicts have attentional bias towards negative emotional information, manifested as an alert-maintenance model, meaning that attention orientation and difficult disengagement function together. The results of this study could be used to guide interventions geared towards attentional bias training for mobile phone addicts, as well as providing theoretical support for treatment and intervention.
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