Fear of negative evaluation and attentional bias for facial expressions: An event-related study

Mandy Rossignol, Salvatore Campanella, Cécile Bissot, Pierre Philippot
2013 Brain and Cognition  
Numerous studies have shown an exacerbation of attentional bias towards threat in anxiety states. However, the cognitive mechanisms responsible for these attentional biases remain largely unknown. Further, the authors outline the need to consider the nature of the attentional processes in operation (hypervigilance, avoidance, or disengagement). We adapted a dot-probe paradigm to record behavioral and electrophysiological responses in 26 participants reporting high or low fear of evaluation, a
more » ... jor component of social anxiety. Pairs of faces including a neutral and an emotional face (displaying anger, fear, disgust, or happiness) were presented during 200 ms and then replaced by a neutral target to discriminate. Results show that anxious participants were characterized by an increased P1 in response to pairs of faces, irrespective of the emotional expression included in the pair. They also showed an increased P2 in response to angry-neutral pairs selectively. Finally, in anxious participants, the P1 response to targets was enhanced when replacing emotional faces, whereas non-anxious subjects showed no difference between the two conditions. These results indicate an early hypervigilance to face stimuli in social anxiety, coupled with difficulty in disengaging from threat and sustained attention to emotional stimuli. They are discussed within the framework of current models of anxiety and psychopathology.
doi:10.1016/j.bandc.2013.05.008 pmid:23811212 fatcat:apm7wjkg6vczvicthbnsjppuaq