The Program for Anxiety, Cognition, and Treatment (PACT) Lab, directed by Dr. Bethany Teachman, Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia, investigates cognitive processes that contribute to the development and maintenance of anxiety disorders and other forms of emotion dysregulation. We are especially interested in how thoughts that occur outside of our conscious control contribute to anxiety and avoidance, and how we can change thinking styles to improve emotional functioning.

If we want to understand why an intelligent, normally rational person with a spider phobia has refused to go down to their basement for ten years; why a person with social phobia sees only the one scowling face in a room full of smiles; and why a person with panic disorder is convinced that the 200th panic attack is the one that will bring on a heart attack, we need to consider the role of automatic processing of emotional information in these disorders. Each of these seemingly irrational decisions, beliefs, and behaviors is likely fueled by some aspect of automatic cognitive processing, whereby anxious individuals interpret their environment in such a way that these maladaptive reactions make sense to them in the moment. Our research investigates how these processes contribute to the onset and persistence of psychopathology and how we can change these processes to relieve symptoms.

We use digital technologies, such as mobile apps and web-based cognitive bias modification programs, to shift anxious thinking. Our goal with these technologies is to increase access to evidence-based interventions to help overcome common barriers to accessing treatment, such as cost, transportation, and stigma involved in seeking mental health treatment. Additionally, we seek new ways to more dynamically track anxious and other disorder-related thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, such as through active (e.g., ecological momentary assessment) and passive (e.g., GPS, accelerometer, psychophysiology) mobile sensing via smartphones. These dynamic monitoring approaches can help us identify moments of anxiety in daily life and in turn develop interventions that can be administered right in the moment users need them most.

Current Online Studies

MindTrails is a public website to study new programs to reduce anxious thinking patterns using cognitive bias modification for interpretation. To sign up for the study, please go to:


Project Implicit Health (PIH) is a research and education website focused on implicit attitudes about topics related to health. At PIH, you can measure your thoughts about mental and physical health that are difficult to consciously control. To sign up for a study, please go to: