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Abstract

The existence of cognitive biases in anxiety is now well established, and we summarize evidence demonstrating attentional vigilance to cues associated with threat, pessimistic interpretation of ambiguous items and an increased perception of the likelihood of occurrence of negative events. We explore how these reactions can be understood within an evolutionary context, and present a descriptive model consistent with the experimental findings, conducive to modification of responses through learning. A computational implementation of aspects of the model successfully simulates changes in reaction time for a simple task as anxiety levels increase. Future directions include pursuing the causal nature of biases in anxiety and examining the potential for change through training techniques.

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... Anxiety disorders rank among the most common mental disorders in North America, with a lifetime prevalence rate of 28.8% (Coles & Heimberg, 2002;Eysenck, Derakshan, Santos, & Calvo, 2007;Ludewig, Paulus, Ludewig, & Vollenweider, 2003;Mathews, Mackintosh, & Fulcher, 1997). The presence of anxiety symptoms in individuals with Major Depressive A C C E P T E D M A N U S C R I P T 4 Disorder (MDD) has been associated with worse illness outcomes (e.g., longer illness duration, higher likelihood of relapse, increased suicide risk) and greater psychosocial disability (Lyche, Jonassen, Stiles, Ulleberg, & Landrø, 2010;Weiss et al., 2016). ...
... Similar to individuals suffering from MDD, individuals suffering from anxiety disorders commonly exhibit impairments in cognitive function (Coles & Heimberg, 2002;Eysenck et al., 2007;Ludewig et al., 2003;Mathews et al., 1997). A number of studies have demonstrated that deficits in executive function, memory, and attention are consistently impaired in individuals with anxiety disorders, including Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD; (Coles & Heimberg, 2002;Eysenck et al., 2007;Ludewig et al., 2003;Mathews et al., 1997). ...
... Similar to individuals suffering from MDD, individuals suffering from anxiety disorders commonly exhibit impairments in cognitive function (Coles & Heimberg, 2002;Eysenck et al., 2007;Ludewig et al., 2003;Mathews et al., 1997). A number of studies have demonstrated that deficits in executive function, memory, and attention are consistently impaired in individuals with anxiety disorders, including Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD; (Coles & Heimberg, 2002;Eysenck et al., 2007;Ludewig et al., 2003;Mathews et al., 1997). In addition, individuals with significant anxiety symptoms (i.e., no diagnosis of an anxiety disorder) have been reported to exhibit deficits in cognitive-emotional processing (e.g., negative attentional bias) (Dugas, Gosselin, & Ladouceur, 2001;Mathews et al., 1997). ...
Article
Background and objectives: This study evaluated the association between self-reported anxiety and objective/subjective measures of cognitive performance in adults with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD). Methods: Acutely depressed subjects with recurrent MDD (n = 100) and age-, sex-, and education-matched healthy controls (HC; n = 100) between the ages of 18 and 65 completed the cross-sectional validation study of the THINC-integrated tool (THINC-it; ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT02508493). Objective cognitive performance was assessed using the THINC-it, and subjective cognitive impairment with the Perceived Deficits Questionnaire for Depression-5-item. Subjects also completed the Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7-item (GAD-7) questionnaire. Results: Subjects with MDD reported significantly more anxiety symptoms, as assessed by the GAD-7, compared to HC (p < 0.001). Linear regression analysis determined that anxiety symptoms significantly accounted for 70.4% of the variability in subjective cognitive impairment, adjusting for depression severity. Moreover, subjects' ratings of the difficulties caused by their anxiety were reported as significantly more severe among subjects with MDD when compared to HC (p < 0.001). Likewise, greater self-reported difficulties with anxiety significantly predicted 57.8% of the variability in subjective cognitive impairment, adjusting for depression severity. Neither anxiety symptoms nor impairment due to anxiety symptoms predicted objective cognitive performance. Limitations: Subjects were not prospectively verified to have a clinical diagnosis of GAD. Rather, this study examined the relationships between symptoms of generalized anxiety, assessed using a brief screening tool, and subjective and objective cognitive function. Conclusions: Results from the current study indicate that adults with MDD and high levels of self-reported anxiety are significantly more likely to report experiencing subjective cognitive dysfunction.
... [Correction added after online publication on 16 April 2020: Amendments have been made in Funding Information and Acknowledgement sections] payoffs (Marshall et al., 2013). Additionally, cognitive biases in learning, such as biased expected value calculations or deficient safety learning, have been suggested to explain the etiology of anxiety disorders (Grupe & Nitschke, 2013;Mathews et al., 1997;Mineka & Zinbarg, 2006). Since these biases are theorized to maintain anxiety (Nelson et al., 2010), identifying what aspect of this process is specifically impaired during anxiety patients' risk learning is important because it can provide a clue about the etiology as well as serve as a target for cognitive therapies. ...
... When changing the "prior," the starting point (blue arrows) is affected by this parameter. The last plot shows that changing the "bPerception" results in changes in asymptotic (ceiling) height with the same starting points and learning rate anxiety show a bias toward negative interpretations of ambiguous stimuli or a perception of an increased likelihood of the occurrence of negative events, contributing to negative representations of sensory evidence (Figure 1d; Hartley & Phelps, 2012;Mathews et al., 1997;Muris et al., 2000). This phenomenon can be interpreted as anxiety and worry biasing the internal representations of the sensory evidence, or it can manifest as a bias in the mean of the likelihood (Bateson, 2016;Hirsch & Mathews, 2012). ...
... shift in the interpretation of uncertain situations (Mathews et al., 1997). ...
Article
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Background: Despite the well-known association between anxiety and risk-avoidant decision making, it is unclear how pathological anxiety biases risk learning. We propose a Bayesian inference model with bias parameters of prior, learning, and perception during risk learning in individuals with pathological anxiety. Methods: Patients with panic disorder (PD, n = 40) and healthy control subjects (n = 84) completed the balloon analog risk task (BART). By fitting our computational model of three bias parameters (prior belief, learning rate, and perceptual bias) to the participants' behavior, we estimated the degree of bias in risk learning and its relationship with anxiety symptoms. Results: Relative to the healthy control subjects, the pathologically anxious participants exhibited a biased underestimation of perceptual evidence rather than differences in priors and learning rates. The degree of perceptual bias was correlated with the anxiety and depression symptom severity in the patients with PD. Furthermore, our proposed model was the winning model for BART data in an external data set from different patient groups. Conclusions: Our results showed that individuals with pathological anxiety demonstrate perceptual bias in evidence accumulation, which may explain why patients with anxiety overestimate risk in their daily lives. This clarification highlights the importance of interventions focusing on perceptual bias, such as enhancing the clarity of favorable outcome probabilities.
... Conversely, cognitive models posit that attention and interpretation biases would contribute to stress-related psychopathology through their contribution to dysfunctional stress and emotion regulation [15]. This claim has also been experimentally supported. ...
... The Mardia coefficient yielded a value of 2.15, which is far below the critical value (±5), assuming multivariate normality in our data [44]. Based on the previous bivariate correlation analysis and following the predictions from current cognitive models [15,45], we tested an equation model where psychological adjustment variables (ie, depression, anxiety, resilience, and well-being) were predicted by cognitive biases directly and/or indirectly through the use of emotion regulation strategies. All the goodness-of-fit indices are shown in Table 2. ...
... Regarding the use of reappraisal, our results showed that while reappraisal partially mediated the relation between negative interpretation bias and well-being, it totally mediated the association of negative attention bias with well-being. These findings are in line with current theories with regard to the major role that cognitive processes play on emotion regulation [15,45]. Our findings indicate the relevance of interpretation biases as a particularly central mechanism to hinder or buffer the impact of adverse situations, such as those derived from the COVID-19 emergency and the resulting lockdown period during March/April 2020. ...
Article
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Background: Extant research supports causal roles of cognitive biases in stress regulation under experimental conditions. However, their contribution to psychological adjustment in the face of ecological major stressors has been largely unstudied. Objective: We developed a novel online method for the ecological examination of attention and interpretation biases during major stress (ie, the COVID-19 lockdown in March/April 2020) and tested their relations with the use of emotion regulation strategies (ie, reappraisal and rumination) to account for individual differences in psychological adjustment to major COVID-19–related stressors (ie, low depression and anxiety, and high well-being and resilience). Methods: Participants completed an online protocol evaluating the psychological impact of COVID-19–related stressors and the use of emotion regulation strategies in response to them, during the initial weeks of the lockdown of March/April 2020. They also completed a new online cognitive task designed to remotely assess attention and interpretation biases for negative information. The psychometric properties of the online cognitive bias assessments were very good, supporting their feasibility for ecological evaluation. Results: Structural equation models showed that negative interpretation bias was a direct predictor of worst psychological adjustment (higher depression and anxiety, and lower well-being and resilience; χ2(9)=7.57; root mean square error of approximation=0.001). Further, rumination mediated the influence of interpretation bias in anxiety (P=.045; 95% CI 0.03-3.25) and resilience (P=.001; 95% CI −6.34 to −1.65), whereas reappraisal acted as a mediator of the influence of both attention (P=.047; 95% CI −38.71 to −0.16) and interpretation biases (P=.04; 95% CI −5.25 to −0.12) in well-being. Conclusions: This research highlights the relevance of individual processes of attention and interpretation during periods of adversity and identifies modifiable protective factors that can be targeted through online interventions.
... The model suggested that stronger negative feedback, essential for maintaining homeostasis by downregulating cortisol release, results in reduced cortisol levels (i.e., hypocortisolism), which may contribute to increased stress sensitivity, and can distinguish individuals with PTSD from those with depression (Sriram et al., 2012). Mathews, Mackintosh, and Fulcher (1997) proposed a model of attentional bias to threat. In this model, stimuli are assigned a positive or negative valence (or weight) to determine their emotional significance. ...
... Units representing stimuli given the highest weight inhibit those with lower weights to simulate limited attentional capacity. The model required an increasing amount of time to perform an attentional search task involving an emotional distractor as anxiety level increased (Mathews, Mackintosh, & Fulcher, 1997). Thus, it provided a potential mechanism for the poor performance of PTSD patients in similar tasks, frequently used to study attentional bias to threat (e.g., Olatunji et al., 2013). ...
... Therefore, it can also help understand what types of changes in neural circuits could lead to changes in arousal and reactivity observed in PTSD. Similarly, the Mathews, Mackintosh, and Fulcher (1997) model could be used to examine individual differences in vigilance, which may account for at least some of the gender differences in PTSD vulnerability (Catuzzi & Beck, 2014). ...
... Conversely, cognitive models posit out that attention and interpretation biases would contribute to stress-related psychopathology through their contribution to dysfunctional stress and emotion regulation [15]. This claim has also been experimentally supported. ...
... First, Mardia coefficient yielded a value of 2.15, which is far below the critical value (± 5), assuming multivariate normality in our data [44]. Second, based on the previous bivariate correlation analysis, and following the predictions from current cognitive models [15,45], we tested an equation model where psychological adjustment variables (ie, depression, anxiety, resilience and well-being) ...
... Regarding the use of reappraisal, our results showed that whereas reappraisal partially mediated the relation between negative interpretation bias and well-being, it totally mediated the association of negative attention bias with well-being. These findings are in line with current theories with regard to the major role that cognitive processes play on emotion regulation [15,45]. Our findings indicate the relevance of interpretation biases as a particularly central mechanism to hinder or buffer the impact of adverse situations, as the ones derived from the COVID-19 emergency and the resulting lockdown period suffered during March/April 2020. ...
Preprint
Full-text available
BACKGROUND Extant research supports a causal role of cognitive biases on stress regulation under experimental conditions. However, their contribution to psychological adjustment in the face of ecological major stressors has been largely unstudied. OBJECTIVE We developed a novel online method to provide an ecological examination of attention and interpretation biases during major stress (ie, the COVID-19 lockdown suffered in March/April 2020) and tested their relations with the use of emotion regulation strategies (ie, reappraisal and rumination), to account for individual differences in psychological adjustment to major COVID-related stressors (ie, low depression and anxiety, high well-being and resilience). METHODS Participants completed an online protocol evaluating the psychological impact of COVID-related stressors and the use of emotion regulation strategies in response to them, during the initial weeks of the lockdown of March/April 2020. They also completed a new online cognitive task, designed to remotely assess attention and interpretation biases for negative information. The psychometric properties of the online cognitive bias assessments were very good, supporting their feasibility for ecological evaluation. RESULTS Structural equation models showed that negative interpretation bias was a direct predictor of worst psychological adjustment (higher depression and anxiety, lower well-being and resilience) [χ2 (gl) = 7.57 (9); RMSEA = .000]. Further, rumination mediated the influence of interpretation bias in anxiety and resilience (P = .045; P = .001, respectively), whereas reappraisal acted as a mediator of the influence of both attention and interpretation biases in well-being (P = .047; P = .041, respectively). CONCLUSIONS This research highlights the relevance of individual processes of attention and interpretation during periods of adversity and identifies modifiable protective factors that can be targeted through online interventions.
... (2) After establishing that a (translational) cognitive task is affected by induced anxiety, the next step will be to try to pinpoint the exact cognitive components that are affected. For example, a number of cognitive tasks rely on multiple cognitive components such as working memory and attention, both of which are known to be altered in anxiety (Bar-Haim et al., 2007;Cisler & Koster, 2010;Eysenck et al., 2007;Hakamata et al., 2010;Mathews et al., 1997;Moran, 2016). The contributions of attention and working memory to such cognitive tasks (or of any entangled cognitive components of interest) can be tested by either performing latent variable modelling or other kinds of computational modelling, or by specific attention/working memory manipulations. ...
... Early neural models posited that anxiety results from a hyper-responsive threatdetection system with amygdala at its core (Mathews et al., 1997). The importance of prefrontal areas in the allocation of attention was later recognised and influenced neurocognitive conceptualisations of anxiety (Bishop et al., 2004;Ohman, 2005). ...
... Studies usually explore how fear prioritises attentional resources to feared stimuli, and how anxiety distracts from the main task at hand. For example, on the one hand, using the dot probe task, it has been found that individuals tend to respond quicker to feared stimuli (Bar-Haim et al., 2007;Mathews et al., 1997;Van Bockstaele et al., 2014). On the other hand, increased state anxiety is usually studied in terms of how it negatively impacts performance on ongoing tasks, due to drawing limited attentional resources towards the worry rather than the task at hand (Eysenck et al., 2007;Moran, 2016;Shi et al., 2019). ...
Conference Paper
Anxiety, the state of anticipating that a negative event may occur, can be adaptive by promoting harm-avoidant behaviours, and thus preparing an organism to react to threats. However, it can also spiral out of control, resulting in anxiety disorders, with these being one of the most common mental health issues leading to disability. Despite decades of research, progress on treating anxiety seems to have stalled. This lack of progress has been attributed, at least in part, to the gap between animal and human research. By adopting a cognitive task and anxiety manipulation that are translational, this thesis attempts to bridge the aforementioned gap by investigating the neurocognitive effects of adaptive and pathological anxiety in humans; research that could be in turn translated into animals. Towards that goal, a temporal bisection task and a threat-of-shock manipulation were used. The first experimental chapter (Chapter 3) showed that induced anxiety can reliably shift time perception, while fear does not, suggesting that anxiety and fear might be distinct entities. The second experimental chapter (Chapter 4) attempted to tease apart the mechanism of the aforementioned effect, by investigating whether a load manipulation shifts time perception similarly to induced anxiety. Load did not shift time perception; hence it is unclear whether anxiety leads to temporal alterations via ‘overloading’ limited cognitive resources. The third experimental (Chapter 5) chapter explored the neural correlates of the effect of anxiety on time perception using functional magnetic resonance imaging, employing a pilot and a pre-registered study. The findings suggested some overlap between anxiety and task related processing, leaving open the possibility that anxiety impacts cognition via commandeering finite mental resources. The (preliminary) data of the fourth experimental chapter (Chapter 6) suggested that time perception is not impaired in clinically anxious individuals, but working memory is, highlighting potential dissociations between adaptive and pathological anxiety. In the final chapter the findings are discussed in light of neurocognitive theories of anxiety, alongside a discussion of the overall approach of the thesis and future experiments that could clarify disparate findings.
... En el estudio de la ansiedad se ha encontrado evidencia acerca de la existencia de sesgos cognitivos (Mathews, Mackintosh & Fulcher, 1997); concretamente sesgos atencionales e interpretativos. El sesgo atencional se define como la tendencia a focalizar la atención de un modo selectivo a la estimulación amenazante vs estimulación neutra, mientras que el sesgo interpretativo sería la tendencia a interpretar situaciones ambiguas como amenazantes (Eysenck & Derakshan, 1997, p. 125). ...
... In recent years, interest has increased and a great effort has been made to attempt to determine the cognitive appraisal processes that operate at the onset and maintenance of anxiety response. Studies of anxiety have found evidence of the existence of cognitive biases (Mathews, Mackintosh, & Fulcher, 1997), specifically, attentional and interpretative biases. Attentional bias is defined as the tendency to focus attention selectively on threatening stimulation versus neutral stimulation, whereas interpretative bias is the tendency to interpret ambiguous situations as threatening (Eysenck & Derakshan, 1997, p. 125). ...
Article
Full-text available
There are currently a large number of theoretical models that defend the importance of cognitive appraisal in the onset and maintenance of anxiety response. Research into the cognitive processes underlying anxiety response have clearly shown that, in comparison to normal subjects, anxious subjects display a tendency to selectively pay attention and catastrophically interpret information that is congruent with their emotional state. However, there is a third bias about which the data from the various investigations have yielded diffuse results in the different disorders and experimental tasks. This is the case of memory bias, which can be defined as the tendency to preferentially recall previously presented negative stimulation in comparison to neutral stimulation. Atheoretical review is presented with the main goal of determining the existence of memory bias across diverse anxiety disorders and the different experimental tasks used to assess this bias.
... Diathesis-stress models of anxiety-related vulnerability factors, such as threat bias, propose that observable effects of these factors may not be evident in the absence of a stressor (Beck 1987;MacLeod et al. 2004). Recent evidence suggests that threat bias represents a latent vulnerability that emerges 1 3 under conditions of stress (e.g., Bar-Haim et al. 2010;Sipos et al. 2013), which is consistent with the proposal that the sensitivity to threat increases as anxiety increases (Mathews and Mackintosh 1998;Mathews et al. 1997;Williams et al. 1997). Further, several studies document that inducing a bias towards threat leads to elevations in stress reactivity in nonclinical samples (i.e., greater anxious mood in response to a stressful task or challenge), strengthening the plausibility of a causal link between the threat bias and the development of anxiety (Clarke et al. 2008;Eldar et al. 2008;MacLeod et al. 2002). ...
... Several models of the anxiety-related threat bias propose that attentional competition from threat is a necessary condition to produces a detectable threat bias (Mathews and Mackintosh 1998;Mathews et al. 1997;Williams et al. 1997). The dot probe task has previously been modified to assess the contributions of vigilance (the degree to which attention is captured by threat) and disengagement (the degree to which attention is held by threat) with the inclusion of "baseline" trials where no threatening stimuli are presented. ...
Article
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Exaggerated attention to threatening information, or the threat bias, has been implicated in the development and maintenance of anxiety disorders. Recent research has highlighted methodological limitations in threat bias measures, such as temporal insensitivity, leading to the development of novel metrics that capture change and variability in threat bias over time. These metrics, however, have rarely been examined in non-clinical samples. The present study aimed to explore the utility of these trial-level metrics in predicting anxiety-related stress reactivity (stress-induced negative mood state) in trait anxious adults (N = 52). Following a stressor, participants completed the dot probe task to generate threat bias scores. Stress reactivity was measured via stress-induced changes in subjective mood state. More variability in trial-level bias scores (TL-BSs) and greater bias away from threat (both mean and peak negative TL-BSs) predicted increased stress reactivity. The temporal characteristics of threat bias and implications for clinically-relevant measurement are discussed.
... This criterion shift leads to increased false alarms (Bateson et al., 2011), but in a threatening environment the cost of a false alarm is not as great as a miss. Under threat, a criterion shift demonstrates adaptive behavior to prevent harm (Mathews et al., 1997), even though these behaviors are inappropriate under normal circumstances (Thayer and Friedman, 2004). The decision to react to a suspected threat is done quickly before top-down cognitive assessment (Mathews et al., 1997), a decision that takes less time than deciding if an environment is safe (Brosschot et al., 2016). ...
... Under threat, a criterion shift demonstrates adaptive behavior to prevent harm (Mathews et al., 1997), even though these behaviors are inappropriate under normal circumstances (Thayer and Friedman, 2004). The decision to react to a suspected threat is done quickly before top-down cognitive assessment (Mathews et al., 1997), a decision that takes less time than deciding if an environment is safe (Brosschot et al., 2016). This action and response repertoire is based on behaviors that are appropriate when danger is likely or imminent, and therefore are fitting with the current Army law of war rules or rules of engagement, where Soldiers are told to act if they feel they are under threat (DoD Law of War Manual, 2015). ...
Article
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Decision making is one of the most vital processes we use every day, ranging from mundane decisions about what to eat to life-threatening choices such as how to avoid a car collision. Thus, the context in which our decisions are made is critical, and our physiology enables adaptive responses that account for how environmental stress influences our performance. The relationship between stress and decision making can additionally be affected by one's expertise in making decisions in high-threat environments, where experts can develop an adaptive response that mitigates the negative impacts of stress. In the present study, 26 male military personnel made friend/foe discriminations in an environment where we manipulated the level of stress. In the high-stress condition, participants received a shock when they incorrectly shot a friend or missed shooting a foe; in the low-stress condition, participants received a vibration for an incorrect decision. We characterized performance using signal detection theory to investigate whether a participant changed their decision criterion to avoid making an error. Results showed that under high-stress, participants made more false alarms, mistaking friends as foes, and this co-occurred with increased high frequency heart rate variability. Finally, we examined the relationship between decision making and physiology, and found that participants exhibited adaptive behavioral and physiological profiles under different stress levels. We interpret this adaptive profile as a marker of an expert's ingrained training that does not require top down control, suggesting a way that expert training in high-stress environments helps to buffer negative impacts of stress on performance.
... Understanding negative emotion from facial expressions is potentially important for survival (relative to positive emotion), and this may be why the visual system is biased toward the processing of negative expressions (Taylor, 1991). In fact, negative expressions attract and hold attention more frequently and for longer than positive expressions (Mathews et al., 1997). Importantly, the prioritized processing of negative expressions is specifically attributed to the neural pathway tuned to LSF components (Vuilleumier, 2005). ...
... In this case, other clues, such as facial movement, tone of voice, and/or contextual information, must be used when trying to interpret true emotion from anger facial expressions. Considering the fact that a high sensitivity for negative expressions has an adaptive function that promotes survival (Mathews et al., 1997), the visual system is likely biased toward hidden, as well as genuine, negative emotion. Based on this notion, LSF components play a key role in the sensitivity of interpreting hidden anger in deceptive happiness. ...
Article
Full-text available
Interpreting another's true emotion is important for social communication, even in the face of deceptive facial cues. Because spatial frequency components provide important clues for recognizing facial expressions, we investigated how we use spatial frequency information from deceptive faces to interpret true emotion. We conducted two different tasks: a face-generating experiment in which participants were asked to generate deceptive and genuine faces by tuning the intensity of happy and angry expressions (Experiment 1) and a face-classification task in which participants had to classify presented faces as either deceptive or genuine (Experiment 2). Low- and high-spatial frequency (LSF and HSF) components were varied independently. The results showed that deceptive happiness (i.e., anger is the hidden expression) involved different intensities for LSF and HSF. These results suggest that we can identify hidden anger by perceiving unbalanced intensities of emotional expression between LSF and HSF information contained in deceptive faces.
... 10,20 The fear relates to negative cognitive bias, which can make the vaccine risk seem greater, and skepticism toward the benefits of the vaccines appears. 26,28 Furthermore, the misinterpretation of mortality-related events can add skepticism to the vaccination decisionmaking, which most likely will fuel immunization refusal. The more present the negative bias is in processing of mortality and negative emotion related events, the stronger the skepticism about the vaccine′s beneficial effects will be. ...
... This can suggest a continuity and stability in behavior regarding vaccine hesitancy, indicating a personal pattern, which can be justified by information processing styles, knowledge and cognitive biases. 26,28 Based on the vaccination status/intention, medium to large differences in vaccine hesitancy were demonstrated. Moreover, good discriminant properties of the scale were revealed, indicating that CoVaH can accurately detect vaccine uptake intention/ predict vaccination status, being able to differentiate in more than 90% of the cases the unvaccinated from the vaccinated. ...
Article
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The aim of the study was to develop and validate the Multidimensional Covid-19 Vaccine Hesitancy Scale (CoVaH), a self-report measure to assess the beliefs and attitudes beneath vaccination hesitancy and reasons for vaccine refusal in the context of Covid-19. A sample of 1503 Hungarian respondents filled out the scale. Exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis was conducted to identify latent constructs underlying participants′ responses. Findings show a robust three-factor solution for the 15-item CoVaH with high factor loadings on each factor: skepticism, risk perception and fear of Covid-19 vaccine. The CoVaH displayed very good fit indices (KMO = .94, RMSEA = 0.049, CFI = .983) and internal consistencies (α values > .89) and was found to have proper convergent, concurrent and discriminant validity in identifying Covid-19 vaccine hesitancy in the general population. The new scale adds to the literature through the identification of the fear of COVID-19 vaccines, as a newly highlighted explanatory variable of COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy, besides the other formerly identified components. The scale, available in English and Hungarian, allows the assessment of vaccine uptake hesitancy and has the potential to help targeted interventions, considering individual factors that interfere with vaccination acceptance.
... The psychological factors may be related to automatic emotional reactivity. Higher trait anxiety could be related to (i) anxiety perseveration by attentional bias to threatening information [26][27][28][29] and (ii) reducing the automatic emotional reactivity [30,31] for the avoidance of risk-taking [32]. Under temporal pressure and information ambiguity, people with higher trait anxiety tend to attenuate their automatic emotional reactivity to future events [29,33], which is a process intended to manipulate emotional generation [34]. ...
... This dissociation between state and trait anxiety is likely related to functional and neural differences. On one hand, as argued in the introductory section, trait anxiety is related to (i) attentional bias to anxiety-evoking information [26][27][28][29] and (ii) attenuating emotional reactivity (e.g., SCR) [39][40][41] under control [29][30][31]33]. State anxiety, on the other hand, increases the automatic emotional reactivity to anxiety-evoking information [29,35]. ...
Article
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Emergency situations promote risk-taking behaviors associated with anxiety reactivity. A previous study using the Iowa Gambling Task (IGT) has demonstrated that prespecified state anxiety predicts moderate risk-taking (middle-risk/high-return) after salient penalty events under temporal pressure and information ambiguity. Such moderate risk-taking can be used as a behavioral background in the case of fraud damage. We conducted two psychophysiological experiments using the IGT and used a psychophysiological modeling approach to examine how moderate risk-taking under temporal pressure and information ambiguity is associated with automatic physiological responses, such as a skin conductance response (SCR). The first experiment created template SCR functions under concurrent temporal pressure and information ambiguity. The second experiment produced a convolution model using the SCR functions and fitted the model to the SCR time series recorded under temporal pressure and no temporal pressure, respectively. We also collected the participants’ anxiety profiles before the IGT experiment. The first finding indicated that participants with higher state anxiety scores yielded better model fitting (that is, event-related physiological responses) under temporal pressure. The second finding demonstrated that participants with better model fitting made consecutive Deck A selections under temporal pressure more frequently. In summary, a psychophysiological modeling approach is effective for capturing overlapping SCRs and moderate risk-taking under concurrent temporal pressure and information ambiguity is associated with automatic physiological and emotional reactivity.
... The context was significantly more unfavorable for the older population, which could lead to worsening mental health (Armitage and Nellums, 2020;García-Portilla et al., 2020) or suffering from anxiety and depression (e.g., Santini et al., 2020). Cognitive theories of depression indicate that thoughts, inferences, interpretations, and how people attend to and recall fear-related information can be relevant factors to increase depression and anxiety (Mathews et al., 1997;Booth and Sharma, 2020). Taking into account that good emotion regulation requires adequate functioning of the working memory and the inhibitory processes that block access to negative information (Gotlib and Joormann, 2010), older people may be especially vulnerable to mental health problems arising from the pandemic. ...
... First, to analyze in three age groups possible differences between the recall of hypothetical future negative thoughts related to the threats and repercussions of COVID-19 and positive thoughts for the future, desires, and plans after the pandemic. It could be considered that the current situation leads to focusing on COVID-19-related sources of fear (Mathews et al., 1997;Booth and Sharma, 2020) and that this, in turn, can lead to a state of mood-congruent retrieval, focusing recall on negative content (for a review, see: Blaney, 1986). However, the literature also indicates that to increase the sense of well-being and reduce stress and anxiety, people prefer to codify and remember positive aspects, showing a positivity phenomenon. ...
Article
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This study aimed to determine whether the observed tendency to remember more positive than negative past events (positivity phenomena) also appears when recalling hypothetical events about the future. In this study, young, middle-aged, and older adults were presented with 28 statements about the future associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, half positive and half negative. In addition, half of these statements were endowed with personal implications while the other half had a more social connotations. Participants rated their agreement/disagreement with each statement and, after a distraction task, they recalled as many statements as possible. There was no difference in the agreement ratings between the three age groups, but the participants agreed with positive statements more than with negative ones and they identified more with statements of social content than of personal content. The younger and older individuals recalled more statements than the middle-aged people. More importantly, older participants recalled more positive than negative statements (positivity effect), and showed a greater tendency to turn negative statements into more positive or neutral ones (positivity bias). These findings showed that the positivity effect occurs in even such complex and situations as the present pandemic, especially in older adults. The results are discussed by reference to the notion of commission errors and false memories resulting from the activation of cognitive biases.
... Unfortunately, the RT literature has failed to adopt or develop architectural models of mind. For instance, in describing a highly studied phenomenon of RM, affective biases, Mathews, Mackintosh & Fulcher (1997) invoke interrupt signals, attentional vigilance, effortful suppression and intrusions. The concepts of cognitive and attentional 'biases' are currently cast mainly in terms of 'external and internal stimuli' (Mathews et al., 1997;Todd, Cunningham, Anderson & Thompson, 2012) and 'affective salience' (Schweizer et al., 2019) rather than in terms of motivators, insistence or motive processing, i.e., the mechanisms that are being 'biased' and that process them. ...
... For instance, in describing a highly studied phenomenon of RM, affective biases, Mathews, Mackintosh & Fulcher (1997) invoke interrupt signals, attentional vigilance, effortful suppression and intrusions. The concepts of cognitive and attentional 'biases' are currently cast mainly in terms of 'external and internal stimuli' (Mathews et al., 1997;Todd, Cunningham, Anderson & Thompson, 2012) and 'affective salience' (Schweizer et al., 2019) rather than in terms of motivators, insistence or motive processing, i.e., the mechanisms that are being 'biased' and that process them. The attentional bias and RT literatures fail to invoke an overall model of mind which, for instance generates motives, filters them, prioritizes, them and acts upon them, i.e., that addresses the types of capabilities with which H-CogAff is concerned. ...
Article
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Understanding intrusive mentation, rumination, obsession, and worry, known also as "repetitive thought" (RT), is important for understanding cognitive and affective processes in general. RT is of transdiagnostic significance—for example obsessive-compulsive disorder, insomnia and addictions involve counterproductive RT. It is also a key but under-acknowledged feature of emotional episodes. We argue that RT cannot be understood in isolation but must rather be considered within models of whole minds and for this purpose we suggest an integrative design-oriented (IDO) approach. This approach involves the design stance of theoretical Artificial Intelligence (the central discipline of cognitive science), augmented by systematic conceptual analysis, aimed at explaining how autonomous agency is possible. This requires developing, exploring and implementing cognitive-affective-conative information-processing architectures. Empirical research on RT and emotions needs to be driven by such theories, and theorizing about RT needs to consider such data. Mental perturbance is an IDO concept that, we argue, can help characterize, explain, and theoretically ground the concept of RT. Briefly, perturbance is a mental state in which motivators tend to disrupt, or otherwise influence, executive processes even if reflective processes were to try to prevent or minimize the motivators’ influence. We draw attention to an IDO architecture of mind, H-CogAff, to illustrate the IDO approach to perturbance. We claim, further, that the intrusive mentation of some affective states— including grief and limerence (the attraction phase of romantic love) — should be conceptualized in terms of perturbance and the IDO architectures that support perturbance. We call for new taxonomies of RT and emotion in terms of IDO architectures such as H-CogAff. We point to areas of research in psychology that would benefit from the concept of perturbance.
... In fact, uncertainty itself is a strong causal and maintaining factor of worry ). Worry-prone individuals often demonstrate a pessimism bias, characterized by heightened expectations of negative future outcomes (Mathews et al. 1997;Miloyan et al. 2014c). Repetitive thinking about future threats, a characteristic feature of worry (Watkins 2008), may lead to increased likelihood estimates for negative future outcomes (Szpunar and Schacter 2013). ...
Chapter
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... Taken together, these results indicate that emotional faces do not strongly attract attention (see Figures 3 and 5(A); Todd & Kramer, 1994). Such moderate attentional effects are more likely to be observed when the a priori probability of selecting an item is low (i.e., in higher set size conditions), and it is possible that a similar explanation can also explain the lack of significant facilitation effects in in other studies that used sparse displays with different paradigms (e.g., dot-probe task; Mathews, Mackintosh, & Fulcher, 1997;Yiend & Mathews, 2001). ...
Article
Can emotional expressions automatically attract attention in virtue of their affective content? Previous studies mostly used emotional faces (e.g., angry or happy faces) in visual search tasks to assess whether affective contents can automatically attract attention. However, the evidence in support of affective attentional capture is still contentious, as the studies either: (1) did not render affective contents irrelevant to the task, (2) used affective stimuli that were perceptually similar to the target, (3) did not rule out factors occurring later in the visual search process (e.g., disengagement of attention), or (4) used only schematic emotional faces that do not clearly convey affective contents. The present study remedied these shortcomings by measuring the eye movements of observers while they searched for emotional photographic faces. To examine whether irrelevant emotional faces are selected because of their perceptual similarity to the target (top-down), or because of their emotional expressions, we also assessed the perceptual similarity between the emotional distractors and the target. The results show that happy and angry faces can indeed automatically attract attention and the gaze. Perceptual similarity modulated the effect only weakly, indicating that capture was mainly due to bottom-up, stimulus-driven processes. However, post-selectional processes of disengaging attention from the emotional expressions contributed strongly to the overall disruptive effects of emotional expressions. Taken together, these results support a stimulus-driven account of attentional capture by emotional faces, and highlight the need to use measures that can distinguish between early and late processes in visual search.
... As such, the evolutionary account posited that attentional negativity bias is adaptive for survival and hard-wired, leading to more automatic and robust results (LeDoux, 1996). This attentional negativity bias was more pronounced in individuals with high anxiety: individuals with high anxiety showed significantly faster attentional engagement to and delayed attentional disengagement from emotionally threatening stimuli compared with those with low anxiety (Cisler & Koster, 2010;Koster et al., 2006;Mathews et al., 1997). ...
Article
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The current experiment examined the effect of fair-related stimuli on attentional orienting and the role of cardiac vagal tone indexed by heart rate variability (HRV). Neutral faces were associated with fair and unfair offers in the Ultimatum Game (UG). After the UG, participants performed the spatial cueing task in which targets were preceded by face cues that made fair or unfair offers in the UG. Participants showed faster attentional engagement to fair-related stimuli, which was more pronounced in individuals with lower resting HRV—indexing reduced cardiac vagal tone. Also, people showed delayed attentional disengagement from fair-related stimuli, which was not correlated with HRV. The current research provided initial evidence that fair-related social information influences spatial attention, which is associated with cardiac vagal tone. These results provide further evidence that the difficulty in attentional control associated with reduced cardiac vagal tone may extend to a broader social and moral context.
... Alas, the RT literature has failed to adopt or develop architectural models of mind. For instance, in describing a highly studied phenomenon of RM, affective biases, Mathews, Mackintosh & Fulcher [39] invoke interrupt signals, attentional vigilance, effortful suppression and intrusions. The concepts of cognitive and attentional 'biases' [68], are currently cast mainly in terms of 'external and internal stimuli' rather than in terms of goal or motive processing (contrast [4][5]61]), i.e., the mechanisms that are being affected. ...
Conference Paper
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Intrusive mentation, rumination, obsession, and worry, referred to by Watkins [1] as "repetitive thought" (RT), are of great interest to psychology. This is partly because every typical adult is subject to "RT". A critical feature of "RT" is of transdiagnostic significance—for example obsessive compulsive disorder, insomnia and addictions involve unconstructive “RT”. We argue that “RT” cannot be understood in isolation but must rather be considered within models of whole minds. Researchers must adopt the designer stance in the tradition of Artificial Intelligence augmented by systematic conceptual analysis [2]. This means developing, exploring and implementing cognitive-affective architectures. Empirical research on "RT" needs to be driven by such theories, and theorizing about “RT” needs to consider such data. We draw attention to H-CogAff theory of mind (motive processing, emotion, etc.) and a class of emotions it posits called perturbance (or tertiary emotions) [3,4], as a foundation for the research programme we advocate. Briefly, a perturbance is a mental state in which motivators tend to disrupt executive processes. We argue that grief, limerence (the attraction phase of romantic love) and a host of other psychological phenomena involving "RT" should be conceptualized in terms of perturbance and related design-based constructs. We call for new taxonomies of "RT" in terms of information processing architectures such as H-CogAff. We claim general theories of emotion also need to recognize perturbance and other architecture-based aspects of emotion. Meanwhile “cognitive” architectures need to consider requirements of autonomous agency, leading to cognitive-affective architectures.
... Respecto de la segunda cuestión es bien conocido que altos niveles de ansiedad producen sesgos cognitivos y especialmente atencionales (Mathews, Mackintosh y Fulcher, 1997). En nuestro caso, estimulación negativa y alta ansiedad han potenciado el efecto de la presentación de las imágenes negativas sobre los juicios causales. ...
... Dysphoric individuals are more likely to classify morphed faces ranging from pure sadness to pure happiness as sad [23], and the magnitude of this bias correlates with their levels of depression, anxiety, and negative mood [56]. Also, anxious patients have a greater attentional vigilance to threatening stimuli and are more willing to interpret ambiguous situations as negative [57]. At the brain level, it is interesting to note that depressed patients show increased metabolic activity and altered grey matter volumes in amygdala-medial prefrontal networks [58], similar to those affected by transient negative priming effects as described above [36]. ...
Article
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Both affective states and personality traits shape how we perceive the social world and interpret emotions. The literature on affective priming has mostly focused on brief influences of emotional stimuli and emotional states on perceptual and cognitive processes. Yet this approach does not fully capture more dynamic processes at the root of emotional states, with such states lingering beyond the duration of the inducing external stimuli. Our goal was to put in perspective three different types of affective states (induced affective states, more sustained mood states and affective traits such as depression and anxiety) and investigate how they may interact and influence emotion perception. Here, we hypothesized that absorption into positive and negative emotional episodes generate sustained affective states that outlast the episode period and bias the interpretation of facial expressions in a perceptual decision-making task. We also investigated how such effects are influenced by more sustained mood states and by individual affect traits (depression and anxiety) and whether they interact. Transient emotional states were induced using movie-clips, after which participants performed a forced-choice emotion classification task with morphed facial expressions ranging from fear to happiness. Using a psychometric approach, we show that negative (vs. neutral) clips increased participants’ propensity to classify ambiguous faces as fearful during several minutes. In contrast, positive movies biased classification toward happiness only for those clips perceived as most absorbing. Negative mood, anxiety and depression had a stronger effect than transient states and increased the propensity to classify ambiguous faces as fearful. These results provide the first evidence that absorption and different temporal dimensions of emotions have a significant effect on how we perceive facial expressions.
... Moreover, considering the studies by Barsky and Ahern (2004), Greeven et al. (2007), Hedman et al. (2016), Salkovskis et al. (2003), Seivewright et al. (2008), Sørensen et al. (2011), andSumathipala et al. (2008), it can be assumed that cognitive behavioural intervention can be effective in healthy individuals with COVID-19 anxiety. In general, COVID-19 anxiety can prompt cognitive bias (Mathews et al., 1997), threat-related attention bias (Mogg and Bradley, 2018), false safety behaviours (Riccardi et al., 2017), and disruptive behaviours (Bubier and Drabick, 2009) in healthy individuals with severe COVID-19 anxiety. Regarding the outbreak of COVID-2019 and the associated anxiety in accordance with that, it is essential to propose an intervention to reduce COVID-19 anxiety in healthy population. ...
Article
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The outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-2019) is associated with a certain kind of anxiety around coronavirus in healthy population. Coronavirus anxiety can put healthy individuals at a risk of false safety behaviours, which can bring corrosive consequences. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effectiveness of cognitive behavioural intervention for health anxiety, somatosensory amplification, and depression among healthy individuals with coronavirus disease anxiety in Iran. This study was conducted in Rasht, Iran, and included 150 college students aged between 18 and 32 years. In accordance with the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) criteria for illness anxiety disorder and using 8 items of the Short Health Anxiety Inventory, which were adapted to coronavirus disease anxiety, the participants were randomly assigned into experimental group (n = 75) and waitlist control group (n = 75). The cognitive-behavioural intervention was provided for the experimental group participants in 10 90-minute sessions (5-day a week). The intervention was groupbased and included the reduction of hypervigilance, amplification, and false safety-seeking behaviours. The Short Health Anxiety Inventory, Somatosensory Amplification Scale, and Beck Depression Inventory were completed by the participants before and after the intervention. Significant reductions were observed in health anxiety (p < 0.01), somatosensory amplification (p < 0.01), and depression (p < 0.01) for the experimental group. Given the contagious nature of illness anxiety and its negative consequences, it is essential to deal with coronavirus anxiety. Cognitive behavioural therapy is efficacious for coronavirus anxiety by reducing the catastrophic beliefs and false safety behaviours.
... Processing biases are a hallmark of anxiety disorders. Pathological fear and anxiety are thought to be maintained by abnormal distribution of attention to external stimuli, atypical interpretation of situations, biased expectancy of events, and abnormalities in memory (e.g., Mathews, Mackintosh, & Fulcher, 1997). While pathological fear and anxiety are thought to be provoked or consolidated by such threat-related biases (Hirsch, Clark, & Mathews, 2006;Taylor & Rachman, 1994), these biases can, under certain circumstances, also be observed in healthy individuals (e.g., Amin & Lovibond, 1997;Davey, 1992;Öhman, Flyket, & Esteves, 2001). ...
... Similarly, we did not count some stressful life events as being necessarily adverse, for example due to a lack of objectivity or specificity (see Methods section for omitted items). Second, we could not rule out that those with anxiety disorder onset are also likelier to report experiencing adversity, for example, on account of pessimistic interpretation biases (Mathews et al., 1997). Third, despite the large sample size of the NESARC, there were few cases of recurrent onset, leading to a relatively imprecise estimate. ...
Article
This study tested the hypothesis that adverse events are associated with increased risk of onset of anxiety disorders. Data from Waves 1 (N = 43,093; 2001-2002) and 2 (N = 34,653; 2004-2005) of the National Epidemiological Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC) were used to assess whether adverse events at baseline are associated with increased risk of anxiety disorder onset over three years of follow up. Sixty-six percent (SE: 1.0) of respondents with an anxiety disorder in the intervening period between Waves 1 and 2 had experienced an adverse life event in the year prior to the Wave 1 interview. In logistic regression models adjusted for sociodemographic and psychiatric characteristics, adverse life events at baseline were associated with anxiety disorder onset within the three-year follow up period. The pattern of association between adverse events and anxiety disorder onset was similar across sub-types, and injury, illness or death of family or close friends consistently had the strongest association with anxiety disorder onset. These findings suggest that adverse life events play a role in the onset of anxiety disorders.
... Information processing in humans is known to be pessimistically biased by a negative mood, with a greater expectation of a worse outcome when confronted with ambiguous stimuli [1][2][3][4]. By analogy, biases in judgement or cognitive biases have become a popular way to access non-human animal moods [5][6][7][8]. ...
Article
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Cognitive bias has become a popular way to access non-human animal mood, though inconsistent results have been found. In humans, mood and personality interact to determine cognitive bias, but to date, this has not been investigated in non-human animals. Here, we demonstrate for the first time, to the best of our knowledge, in a non-human animal, the domestic pig (Sus scrofa domesticus), that mood and personality interact, impacting on judgement. Pigs with a more proactive personality were more likely to respond optimistically to unrewarded ambiguous probes (spatially positioned between locations that were previously rewarded and unrewarded) independent of their housing (or enrichment) conditions. However , optimism/pessimism of reactive pigs in this task was affected by their housing conditions, which are likely to have influenced their mood state. Reactive pigs in the less enriched environment were more pessimistic and those in the more enriched environment, more optimistic. These results suggest that judgement in non-human animals is similar to humans, incorporating aspects of stable personality traits and more transient mood states.
... Indeed, in cognitive sciences, the term automaticity is often applied to processes that are considered to be independent of top-down factors such as selective attention or task goals [17]. With regards to emotion information, in particular, processing emotionally significant stimuli (e.g., fearful expressions signaling threat) is frequently assumed to be automatic such that these stimuli are processed and memorized more efficiently [18,19], capture attention more readily [20][21][22][23], and are perceptually more salient than neutral stimuli [24][25][26][27]. A threat advantage has been observed in various conditions where participants are not aware of the stimulus [28][29][30][31][32][33][34] or do not selectively attend to it [21,[35][36][37][38][39]. ...
Article
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Unconscious processes are often assumed immune from attention influence. Recent behavioral studies suggest however that the processing of subliminal information can be influenced by temporal attention. To examine the neural mechanisms underlying these effects, we used a stringent masking paradigm together with fMRI to investigate how temporal attention modulates the processing of unseen (masked) faces. Participants performed a gender decision task on a visible neutral target face, preceded by a masked prime face that could vary in gender (same or different than target) and emotion expression (neutral or fearful). We manipulated temporal attention by instructing participants to expect targets to appear either early or late during the stimulus sequence. Orienting temporal attention to subliminal primes influenced response priming by masked faces, even when gender was incongruent. In addition, gender-congruent primes facilitated responses regardless of attention while gender-incongruent primes reduced accuracy when attended. Emotion produced no differential effects. At the neural level, incongruent and temporally unexpected primes increased brain response in regions of the fronto-parietal attention network, reflecting greater recruitment of executive control and reorienting processes. Congruent and expected primes produced higher activations in fusiform cortex, presumably reflecting facilitation of perceptual processing. These results indicate that temporal attention can influence subliminal processing of face features, and thus facilitate information integration according to task-relevance regardless of conscious awareness. They also suggest that task-congruent information between prime and target may facilitate response priming even when temporal attention is not selectively oriented to the prime onset time.
... Theoretical considerations (Hirsch et al., 2006;Mathews et al., 1997) and empirical data ) support interrelations and shared mechanisms of interpretation and attention biases in SA. Here, the present stimulus material and experimental design which elicit both bias types at the same time and in an interrelated manner appear as useful means for further research in this area. ...
... Differences in personality traits could underpin affective states and this relationship could be bidirectional: for instance, individuals may be more prone to develop either positive or negative affective states depending on their personality, resulting in cognitive judgement bias. Such biases could then feedback on personality traits, as shown in humans (Mathews et al., 1997). ...
Article
Emotional state may influence cognitive processes such as attention and decision-making. A cognitive judgement bias is the propensity to anticipate either positive or negative consequences in response to ambiguous information. Recent work, mainly on vertebrates, showed that the response to ambiguous stimuli might change depending on an individual’s affective state, which is influenced by e.g. the social and physical environment. However, the response to ambiguous stimuli could also be affected by the individual’s behavioural type (personality), a question that has been under-investigated. We studied the link between individual differences in exploratory activity and the response to an ambiguous stimulus in the ant Camponotus aethiops. Exploratory behaviour, quantified with an open-field test, was variable among individuals but consistent over time within individuals. Individual ants learned to associate a spatial position to a reinforcement and another spatial position to a punishment. Once the ants had acquired this discrimination, cognitive judgement bias was tested with the stimulus in an intermediate position. Fast explorers in the open-field took significantly more time to approach the ambiguous stimulus compared to slow explorers, suggesting a negative judgement bias for fast explorers and a positive bias for slow explorers. This previously unknown link between individual difference in exploratory activity and cognitive bias in a social insect may help understanding the evolution and organization of social life.
... However, explicitly negative or positive emotional stimuli do not require much interpretation: They are clearly perceived as emotionally negative or positive. However, it should be noted that there is a plethora of literature showing that anxious individuals exhibit attentional biases toward threatrelevant stimuli (Mathews et al., 1997; Cisler and Koster, 2010). For example, when schematic faces with 'angry, ' 'neutral, ' and 'happy' facial expressions were used as cues in the modified emotion spatial cueing task, high anxious individuals were slower to disengage their attention away from angry faces (Fox et al., 2002). ...
Article
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The current research examines whether trait anxiety is associated with negative interpretation bias when resolving valence ambiguity of surprised faces. To further isolate the neuro-cognitive mechanism, we presented angry, happy, and surprised faces at broad spatial frequency (BSF), high spatial frequency (HSF), and low spatial frequency (LSF) and asked participants to determine the valence of each face. High trait anxiety was associated with more negative interpretations of BSF (i.e., intact) surprised faces. However, the modulation of trait anxiety on the negative interpretation of surprised faces disappeared at HSF and LSF. The current study provides evidence that trait anxiety modulates negative interpretations of BSF surprised faces. However, the negative interpretation of LSF surprised faces appears to be a robust default response that occurs regardless of individual differences in trait anxiety.
... Nonetheless, we could speculate that personality traits might have biased the perception of words and performance during the nocebo procedure, thus resulting in different perception of treatment effectiveness at the end of the procedure. We know from previous literature that pessimists have a stronger attentional bias toward negative stimuli 42 and, in a similar way, high anxiety leads to be attentive to negative events [43][44][45][46] . Based on this evidence, we could hypothesize that more anxious and less optimistic individuals deployed more attention to the verbal information conveyed by the experimenter about the negative effects of the treatment in worsening performance. ...
Article
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The nocebo effect in motor performance consists in a reduction of force and increase of fatigue following the application of an inert treatment that the recipient believes to be effective. This effect is variable across individuals and it is usually stronger if conditioning –exposure to the active effect of the treatment– precedes a test session, in which the treatment is inert. In the current explorative study we used a conditioning procedure to investigate whether subjective perception of treatment effectiveness changes between the conditioning and the test session and whether this change is related to dispositional traits and to the nocebo-induced reduction of force. Results showed that 56.1% of participants perceived the treatment as more effective in the test than in the conditioning session, had a more pronounced reduction of force, felt more effort and sense of weakness and were characterized by lower levels of optimism and higher anxiety traits compared to the other 43.9% of participants, who conversely perceived the treatment as less effective in the test session than in the conditioning. These findings highlight for the first time a link between changes in perception of treatment effectiveness, personality traits and the magnitude of the nocebo response in motor performance.
... Processing biases are a hallmark of anxiety disorders. Pathological fear and anxiety are thought to be maintained by abnormal distribution of attention to external stimuli, atypical interpretation of situations, biased expectancy of events, and abnormalities in memory (e.g., Mathews, Mackintosh, & Fulcher, 1997). While pathological fear and anxiety are thought to be provoked or consolidated by such threat-related biases (Hirsch, Clark, & Mathews, 2006;Taylor & Rachman, 1994), these biases can, under certain circumstances, also be observed in healthy individuals (e.g., Amin & Lovibond, 1997;Davey, 1992;Öhman, Flyket, & Esteves, 2001). ...
... Cognitive studies indicate that anxiety is characterized by an increased attentional capture by threat-related stimuli [36,37]. This most likely results from a hyper-responsive pre-attentive threat-detection system [38][39][40][41]. In clinics, it is known that anxiety can cause hyperalgesia, and that anxiety levels can predict pain severity and pain behavior in both acute and chronic pain patients [42][43][44]. ...
Article
We have shown that congenitally blind individuals are more sensitive to painful heat compared to their sighted counterparts. This hypersensitivity might be at least partly mediated by psychological and cognitive factors, such as pain expectation and anxiety. Here we investigate whether uncertainty about the intensity of a pending painful stimulus affects pain differently in congenitally blind and sighted control subjects. We measured pain and anxiety in a group of 11 congenitally blind and 11 age- and sex-matched normal sighted control participants. Painful stimuli were delivered under two psychological conditions, whereby participants were either certain or uncertain about the intensity of a pending noxious stimuli. Although both blind and sighted participants had increased anxiety ratings in the uncertain condition, pain ratings increased only in the congenitally blind participants. Our data indicate that increased anxiety has a stronger influence on the perceived pain intensity in blind individuals, possibly because they allocate greater attention to signals of external threat.
... While previous behavioural and neuroimaging work has mainly focused on how anxiety influences emotional information (i.e. hot cognition) (Bar-Haim et al., 2007;Carlisi & Robinson, 2018;Cisler & Koster, 2010;Mathews et al., 1997), less research has been conducted on how anxiety influences non-emotional information (i.e. cold cognition) with mixed results (Robinson et al., 2013). ...
Preprint
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Anxiety can be an adaptive process that promotes harm avoidance. It is accompanied by shifts in cognitive processing, but the precise nature of these changes and the neural mechanisms that underlie them are not fully understood. One theory is that anxiety impairs concurrent (non-harm related) cognitive processing by commandeering finite neurocognitive resources. For example, we have previously shown that anxiety reliably speeds up time, promoting temporal underestimation, possibly due to loss of temporal information. Whether this is due anxiety overloading neurocognitive processing of time is unknown. We therefore set out to understand the neural correlates of this effect, examining whether anxiety and time processing overlap, particularly in regions of the cingulate cortex. Across two studies (an exploratory Study 1, N=13, followed by a pre-registered Study 2, N=29) we combined a well-established anxiety manipulation (threat of shock) with a temporal bisection task while participants were scanned using functional magnetic resonance imaging. Consistent with our previous work, time was perceived to pass more quickly under induced anxiety. Anxiety induction led to widespread activation in cingulate cortex, while the perception of longer intervals was associated with more circumscribed activation in a mid-cingulate area. Importantly, conjunction analysis identified convergence between anxiety and time processing in the insula and mid-cingulate cortex. These results provide tentative support for the hypothesis that anxiety impacts cognitive processing by overloading already-in-use neural resources. In particular, overloading mid-cingulate cortex capacity may drive emotion-related changes in temporal perception, consistent with the hypothesised role of this region in mediating cognitive affective and behavioural responses to anxiety.
... In each case, vigilance should still be a valid indicator for anxiety in the attention bias test. This is supported by previous studies in starlings, sheep and humans which consider vigilance to be a key measure for attention bias [12,13,25]. Attention to threat did not differ between the Control and m-CPP groups, which could potentially be related to the adverse response to the drugs if m-CPP treated sheep were disoriented. ...
Article
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Tests for attention bias potentially offer more rapid assessment of affective state in animals than existing cognitive methods. An attention bias test has previously been developed for sheep and validated as a measure of anxious states. The 3 minute test assessed behavioural responses of sheep in an enclosed arena after brief exposure to the threat of a dog. Experiment 1 of the current study aimed to refine the previously developed method, removing the need for a habituation period and shortening the test duration. Sheep were given either an anxiolytic drug, an anxiogenic drug or a control treatment prior to testing to induce contrasting affective states. Differences in behaviour were found between the treatment groups within the first 45s of the test, indicating the original test duration could be shortened from 180 s. During testing, 36 of 40 animals in the control and anxiolytic groups ate the novel feed offered in the test, indicating it is not necessary to habituate animals to a feed container. Experiment 2 aimed to confirm the responses measured in the test were primarily towards the dog rather than other aspects of the test environment. Sheep exposed to an empty window at the beginning of the test behaved differently to those which were exposed to a dog, indicating sheep behaviour in the test is at least partially a response to the dog. A third group of sheep were also tested with the dog immediately after having small data loggers attached to their necks. Behaviour of these sheep did not differ from the sheep tested without loggers, indicating data logger attachment did not impact their behaviour in the test. In both experiments, treatments did not appear to modify activity (zones crossed), which we propose indicates the test was primarily detecting valence of the affective state rather than arousal.
... In the former, a cue attracts the attention and thus leads to an advantage in processing information at the same position; in the latter, with a longer interval, the attention attracted by the cue would be withdrawn from the original attended location (i.e., cued location); as a result, the detection (or the re-orienting behavior) for the cued target requires an additional process and extra effort to return to the previous attended location, leading to a slower reaction to the cued target (Tipper et al., 1994;Pratt et al., 1997;Klein, 1988Klein, , 2000. All in all, Posner's cueing paradigm provided a very effective method of recasting attentional allocation, giving rise to an expansive set of follow-up studies, often using precues that carried semantic or affective associations (e.g., Mathews et al., 1997;Vuilleumier and Schwartz, 2001;Fox et al., 2002;Taylor and Therrien, 2005;Theeuwes and Van der Stigchel, 2006;Stoyanova et al., 2007;Weaver et al., 2012;Armaghani et al., 2014;Denefrio et al., 2017). However, these studies have focused on the process of perceptual decision-making (i.e., detecting or recognizing the targets); to our knowledge, there has been no work adopting Posner's paradigm to study evaluative decisionmaking and gaze cascades. ...
Article
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Although previous research has characterized the important role for spatial and affective pre-cues in the control of visual attention, less is known about the impact of pre-cues on preference formation. In preference formation, the gaze cascade phenomenon suggests that the gaze serves both to enhance and express “liking” during value-based decision-making. This phenomenon has been interpreted as a type of Pavlovian approach toward preferred objects. Decision-making here reflects a process of gradual commitment in which the gaze functions as a precursor to choice; by this account, overt attention produces a necessarily positive, additive effect on the value of the attended object. The implication is that drawing attention to an object should initiate, and therefore promote, preference formation for that object. Alternatively, information-integration models of attention propose that attention produces a multiplicative effect on the value of the attended object, implying that negative information can impede preference formation. To pitch the gradual-commitment hypothesis against the information-integration hypothesis, we conducted four experiments that combined the spatial-cueing paradigm with a value-based choice paradigm. In each trial in all experiments, subjects were presented with an irrelevant, peripheral pre-cue for a duration of 500 ms, followed by a 500 ms blank, and then a pair of abstract images (one at the pre-cued position; one in the opposite hemifield). The subjects were asked to choose their preferred abstract image by pressing the corresponding button. We manipulated the type of pre-cues (images of faces versus foods; with varying affective associations) and the time constraints (a deadline of 1,500 ms versus self-paced). Overall, the choice data showed a clear pattern of influence from the pre-cues, such that, given a deadline, abstract images were chosen less often if they had been preceded by a pre-cue with a negative affective association (both for face and food images). Analyses of the gaze data showed the emergence of significant gaze biases in line with the subjects’ choices. Taken together, the data pattern provided support for the information-integration hypothesis, particularly under urgency. When tasked with a speeded preference choice, subjects showed affective disengagement following pre-cues that carried a negative association.
... However, in our version (IMPULSE test), the automaticity of an evaluation can reflect not only its basic or biological importance but also its social importance to the individual, and this includes higher-level evaluative dimensions (e.g., trust, trendiness, advocacy, reliability, authenticity, and originality). Equally important is that automatic evaluations can also have subsequent specific and nonconscious effects on the other cognitive processes, such as attention, perception, memory, and decision making [30,31], and behavior [27,32]. Automatic evaluations have also been shown to influence social conformity, face perception, interpersonal perception, emotional regulation, moral judgments, relationship formation and maintenance, stereotyping, and prejudice [33]. ...
Article
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IMPULSE is a novel method for detecting affective responses to dynamic audiovisual content. It is an implicit reaction time test that is carried out while an audiovisual clip (e.g., a television commercial) plays in the background and measures feelings that are congruent or incongruent with the content of the clip. The results of three experiments illustrate the following four advantages of IMPULSE over self-reported and biometric methods: (1) being less susceptible to typical confounds associated with explicit measures, (2) being easier to measure deep-seated and often nonconscious emotions, (3) being better able to detect a broad range of emotions and feelings, and (4) being more efficient to implement as an online method.
... Selective attention to negative information or attentional bias to negative information has been repeatedly found in individuals with depression and anxiety and is also considered a key factor in the development and maintenance of these psychopathologies (Mathews et al., 1997;Mathews and MacLeod, 2005;Bar-Haim et al., 2007;Ouimet et al., 2009;Cisler and Koster, 2010;Peckham et al., 2010;Koster et al., 2011). As a measure of attentional bias, MacLeod et al. (1986) introduced the dot-probe task, which is one of the most widely used behavioral tasks to observe a bias in allocation of spatial selective attention to emotional (vs. ...
Article
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In recent years, several attentional bias modification (ABM) studies have been conducted. Previous studies have suggested that explicit instruction (i.e., informing participants of the contingency of stimuli) enhances the effect of ABM. However, the specific working mechanism has not been identified. This is partly because reaction time (RT) data are typically reduced to an attention bias score, which is a mere difference of RT between experimental and control conditions. This data reduction causes a loss of information, as RT reflects various cognitive processes at play while making a response or decision. To overcome this issue, the present study applied linear ballistic accumulator (LBA) modeling to the outcomes (RT measures) of explicitly guided (compared to standard) ABM. This computational modeling approach allowed us to dissociate RTs into distinct components that can be relevant for attentional bias, such as efficiency of information processing or prior knowledge of the task; this provides an understanding of the mechanism of action underlying explicitly guided ABM. The analyzed data were RT-observed in the dot-probe task, which was administered before and after 3-days of ABM training. Our main focus was on the changes in LBA components that would be induced by the training. Additionally, we analyzed in-session performances over the 3 days of training. The LBA analysis revealed a significant reduction in processing efficiency (i.e., drift rate) in the congruent condition, where the target probe is presented in the same location as a negative stimulus. This explains the reduction in the overall attentional bias score, suggesting that explicit ABM suppresses processing of negative stimuli. Moreover, the results suggest that explicitly guided ABM may influence prior knowledge of the target location in the training task and make participants prepared to respond to the task. These findings highlight the usefulness of LBA-based analysis to explore the underlying cognitive mechanisms in ABM, and indeed our analyses revealed the differences between the explicit and the standard ABM that could not be identified by traditional RT analysis or attentional bias scores.
... Unlike the increasingly popular researches in the field of cognitive impairments in MDD, far less attention has been paid to the cognitive deficits of anxiety disorder. However, a certain number of studies have reported significant impairments in the executive function, attention and memory in individuals suffering from anxiety disorders (Coles and Heimberg, 2002;Eysenck et al., 2007;Hallion et al., 2018;Ludewig et al., 2003;Mathews et al., 1997). ...
Article
Background: Major depressive disorder (MDD) patients with comorbid anxiety symptoms showed obvious cognitive deficits. However, it remains unclear whether comorbid anxiety symptoms will make a specific contribution to cognitive deficits in MDD. Methods: Executive function, processing speed, attention and memory were assessed in 162 MDD patients, and 142 healthy controls (HCs) by a comprehensive neuropsychological battery. 14-item Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale (HAM-A) was used for anxiety symptoms and MDD patients with HAM-A total score >14 were classified into MDD with comorbid anxiety (MDDA) group. A multivariate analysis of covariance and regression models was conducted to evaluate the effects of anxiety symptoms on cognitive deficits. Results: There were no significantly differences in all 4 cognitive domains between MDD alone and MDDA patients (all p < 0.05). In MDDA subgroup, HAM-A total score contributed to executive function and memory (both p < 0.05), while HAM-A psychic symptoms contributed to all 4 domains (all p < 0.05). Moreover, after controlling for the severity of depression, either anxiety symptoms shown as HAMA total score or psychic anxiety symptoms only contributed significantly to the executive function performance. Limitations: The cross-sectional design made it hard to acquire a cognitive performance trajectory accompanied by the fluctuations in anxiety symptoms. Conclusion: Our findings suggest that there is no significant difference in cognitive performance between MDD alone and MDDA patients. However, comorbid anxiety, especially psychic anxiety may contribute to extensive cognitive deficits in MDDA patients. Notably, anxiety symptoms only independently triggered executive dysfunction when eliminating effect of the severity of depression.
... Taken together, one could hypothesize that higher value, meaningful stimuli associated with positive affect may be more attention capturing than at least neutral stimuli. When there are no threatening stimuli present, which would otherwise capture attention powerfully (Mathews, Mackintosh, & Fulcher, 1997), the presence of higher value, positive, and meaningful stimuli may play a role in attention capture, less directed attention, and provide a correspondence with the features of nature environments. Indeed, recent research focusing on gaze behavior found longer gaze times for nature stimuli compared to artificial stimuli when presented at the same time (Masuch, Einenkel, Weninger, Schwarzl, Girsovics, & Oberzaucher, 2018), and high fascination scenes engender more fixations and eye movements relative to low fascination environments (Berto, Massaccesi, & Pasini, 2008), suggesting less effort and more attention capture. ...
... Psychological vulnerabilities emerge when emotion regulation mechanisms have become disturbed or are suboptimal due to one's life experience and/or unfavourable genetic predispositions, often leading to neuropsychiatric disorders, such as depression, anxiety or even psychosis (Zilverstand et al., 2017). A typical and well-known manifestation of such adversities is hypersensitivity to signals that involve or predict some form of threat which can lead to emotional reactions that are difficult to control (Mathews et al., 1997;Bar-Haim et al., 2005;Koster et al., 2006;Cisler and Koster, 2010;Schulz et al., 2013;Markovic et al., 2014). Early detection of such predispositional vulnerabilities could prove useful for being able to offer timely and efficient assistance for preventing the development of mood disorders. ...
Article
People prone to mood disorders and anxiety typically show increased sensitivity to task‑irrelevant stimulation signifying threat. Better knowledge about the brain mechanisms mediating this sensitivity as well as about individual inherited differences in how these mechanisms function is a precondition for developing improved vulnerability screening, resilience building and treatment methods. The chances to have affective disorders are known to depend, among other factors, on the functioning of the brain serotonin systems developed under influence from common genetic variability. However, the extent and directions of the effects of SNPs involved in serotonergic regulation on the propensity for suboptimal threat‑sensitivity are poorly understood. This applies also to HTR1A rs6295 polymorphism. Assisted by our custom developed emotional attentional blink task, we found that nonclinical subjects carrying the G allele (compared to C allele homozygotes) had higher sensitivity to threat‑depicting distractor stimuli, expressed as an increase in the blink magnitude. We also disrupted right‑hemisphere dorsolateral prefrontal cortex by rTMS (repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation) to look for the possible role of DLPFC (dorsolateral prefrontal cortex; known to be involved in cognitive control of responses to affective stimuli) in serotonergic regulation mediated by the HTR1A rs6295 polymorphism. No main effects or interactions with rTMS being involved were found.
... Indeed, a superefficient information processing system for threat may be at the basis of several maladaptive information processing biases (e.g., related to attention, interpretation, expectancies, and memory) that are thought to provoke and maintain pathological fear and anxiety (e.g., Aue & Okon-Singer, 2015;Butler & Mathews, 1983;Hirsch, Clark, & Mathews, 2006;Mathews, Mackintosh, & Fulcher, 1997;Taylor & Rachman, 1994). Notably, the existence of such biases in healthy individuals has not been consistently observed (e.g., Bar-Haim, Lamy, Pergamin, Bakermans-Kranenburg, & van IJzendorn, 2007). ...
Article
Recent behavioral observations suggest an influence of prior expectancies on attention to neutral targets, whereas the detection of threatening targets remains comparably immune to these expectancies. The origin of this asymmetry, however, remains unclear. Here, therefore, we investigated its neural basis by using fMRI. Specifically, we tested whether, in accordance with the idea of a resetting attentional system during phylogenetic threat detection, neural responses for threatening compared with neutral targets would remain largely unaffected by prior expectancies. Alternatively, neural responses could reflect equally strong expectancy influences on both types of targets, with the respective patterns differing, thereby producing the asymmetric effect observed in behavior. Predictive cues in our study evoked specific behavioral and neural expectancy states and effectively modulated response latencies to detect neutral (bird) targets in a 3 × 3 visual search matrix: When threat-related (spider) rather than neutral targets were expected, bird detection was considerably slowed, and the neural response to expected birds differed from that to unexpected birds. Conversely, and in line with the hypothesis of a resetting attentional system for phylogenetic threat, expectancy cues had no impact on RTs or neural responses for spider targets—either in spider phobic participants or in non-spider-fearful control participants. Our data support the idea of bottom-up enhancement of threat-related information through processing pathways unaffected by top-down modulatory influences such as expectancy. These pathways may subserve rapid and comparably automatic responding to threat stimuli by safeguarding independence from more controlled and explicit expectancies, consequently promoting adaptive behavior and survival.
... Attentional bias is defined as the phenomenon by which individuals tend to direct their attention towards emotional stimuli or negative information, rather than towards neutral stimuli (Bar-Haim et al. 2007;Koster et al. 2004). Studies have reported that emotional disorders, such as depression and anxiety, are associated with an attentional bias towards negative information (Kaiser et al. 2016;Mathews et al. 1997;Peckham et al. 2010). In more recent years, some researchers have expanded the investigation to include attentional biases towards positive emotional stimuli in healthy individuals (Pool et al. 2016;Sali et al. 2014). ...
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There has been no consistent conclusion concerning whether auditory spatial attention or visual spatial attention could be modulated by auditory aversive cues. In three experiments, we used direct aversive auditory stimuli (white noise) as cues and explored which subcomponents of attentional bias contribute to auditory and cross-modal spatial attention in unselected samples. In Experiment 1, in a dot-probe paradigm, we adopted auditory stimuli (aversive or neutral) as cues and a tick sound as target, and we set two stimulus onset asynchrony (SOA) conditions: 150 ms and 500 ms. The results of experiment 1 showed that participants performed faster on congruent trials than on incongruent trials and participants exhibited an auditory emotional attentional bias to aversive auditory stimuli in 150 ms SOA condition. Subsequently, in experiment 2 and experiment 3, we employed an auditory emotional spatial cueing task using neutral and negative auditory stimuli as cues. Targets were auditory stimuli (Experiment 2) or visual stimuli (Experiment 3). The results of experiment 2 showed that participants performed faster to targets primed by negative cues than to those primed by neutral cues in valid condition; and performed slower to targets primed by negative cues than to those primed by neutral cues in invalid condition in 150 ms SOA condition. Experiment 2 revealed that speeded engagement with and delayed disengagement from aversive auditory stimuli were both present at a 150 ms SOA condition; at 500 ms SOA condition, only the former effect was present, and auditory inhibition of return was also observed. Experiment 3 produced similar results cross-modally, but cross-modal inhibition of return was not observed. In all experiments, we conclude that emotional attention can operate within the auditory modality and across sensory modalities, and that both engagement and disengagement bias contribute to auditory and cross-modal emotional attention.
... Therefore, it is not desirable to assume that others would have the same definitions for words and terms as the message sender does (Brewer & Holmes, 2009, p. 493). Empirical research has also demonstrated that individuals' interpretive frames are different across diverse audiences, as the frames are influenced by factors such as individuals' demographics (Brewer & Holmes, 2009;Edwards, 1998;Hosokawa & Hosokawa, 2006); cultural and social backgrounds (Brewer & Holmes, 2009); knowledge and experiences (Puntoni et al., 2010;Schuh, 2007;Weingartner & Klin, 2005); psychological tendencies (Beard & Amir, 2009;Mathews, Mackintosh, & Fulcher, 1997;Van Bockstaele et al., 2013); and, the context and individual goals in processing communication (Puntoni et al., 2010). ...
Article
Based on the perspectives of strategic ambiguity and organizational reputation, the current study examines the effects of mixed crisis response strategies, which adopt seemingly contradictory messages (i.e., apology and denial), through experiments. Consistent with the scope of strategic communication research, this study incorporates theoretical aspects of distinct areas of organizational communication to examine audience response to strategic messages, and makes recommendations for organizational communication strategies during crisis situations. The findings demonstrate that, instead of taking messages straightforwardly, people interpret the same messages divergently in their own ways, and these interpretations accordingly affect their attitudes and behavioral intentions. Findings indicate participants choose a dominant interpretation when given mixed messages, and subsequent responses are based on the initial interpretation, such that evaluating a mixed message as an apology yielded more positive outcomes than those who interpreted the message in other ways. In addition to people’s diverse interpretations, organizations’ crisis communication strategies and the business type also significantly influenced the outcomes. The apology-interpreters showed more positive outcomes than those who were exposed only to apology for an automaker’s crisis. On the other hand, for a nonprofit organization’s crisis, those who were exposed to a simple denial message showed more positive outcomes than those who perceived the mixed message as a denial. Based on these findings, this study offers practical recommendations on when to use single messages versus mixed messages, along with the explanation of how these divergent strategies work.
... Psychological vulnerabilities emerge when emotion regulation mechanisms have become disturbed or are suboptimal due to one's life experience and/or unfavourable genetic predispositions, often leading to neuropsychiatric disorders, such as depression, anxiety or even psychosis (Zilverstand et al., 2017). A typical and well-known manifestation of such adversities is hypersensitivity to signals that involve or predict some form of threat which can lead to emotional reactions that are difficult to control (Mathews et al., 1997;Bar-Haim et al., 2005;Koster et al., 2006;Cisler and Koster, 2010;Schulz et al., 2013;Markovic et al., 2014). Early detection of such predispositional vulnerabilities could prove useful for being able to offer timely and efficient assistance for preventing the development of mood disorders. ...
Article
Background and objectives: Previous studies have not consistently concluded whether high-anxious persons exhibit attentional bias towards negative natural auditory stimuli. The present study explores whether auditory negative stimuli could induce attentional bias to negative sounds in real life and investigates the exact nature of these biases using an emotional spatial cueing task. Design: Experimental study with a mixed factorial design. Method: We created two groups according to the state-trait anxiety scale, namely high and low trait anxiety. Participants (N = 68 undergraduate students) were required to respond to an auditory target after receiving a negative (aversive sounds from natural life) or neutral auditory stimuli. Results: A 2 (Validity: valid/invalid) × 2 (Cue Valence: negative/neutral) × 2 (Anxiety Group: LA/HA) repeated-measures ANOVA on reaction times revealed that participants with high trait anxiety exhibited slower reaction times in invalid trials following negative cues than following neutral cues. Higher levels of trait anxiety were associated with more difficult attentional disengagement from negative auditory information. Conclusions: The results demonstrate that impaired attentional disengagement was one of the mechanisms by which high-anxious participants exhibited auditory attentional bias to natural negative information.
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Anxiety and depression are often highly correlated in adolescence, and cognitive biases are commonly associated with both types of symptoms. The purpose of this study was to examine cognitive biases in early adolescents showing: (a) elevated symptoms of anxiety; (b) elevated symptoms of depression; (c) elevated co‐occurring symptoms of anxiety and depression; and (d) neither elevated symptoms of anxiety nor depression (comparison group). In particular, we were interested in the extent to which certain cognitive biases showed symptom specificity. Participants were N = 686 10‐ to 14‐year‐olds, who provided self‐reports of anxiety, depression, and measures of cognitive biases. Four groups were created based on quartile cutoffs: anxious, depressed, anxious‐depressed, and comparison. Among the results from multivariate analysis of variance, the anxious group thought negative events were more costly as compared to the depressed group. In contrast, the depressed group was higher in terms of negative causal attributions, overgeneralizing, selective abstraction, and negative views of the self, world, and future. The anxious‐depressed group showed an overall more negative pattern of cognitive biases than all other groups. Symptoms of anxiety and depression are distinguishable in terms of certain cognitive biases, and the co‐occurrence of symptoms is indicative of a particularly negative pattern of thinking. These findings have implications for intervention programs that could target specific cognitive biases. Highlights • Are distinct patterns of cognitive biases evident among early adolescents with symptoms of anxiety, symptoms of depression, and co‐occurring symptoms of anxiety and depression? • We collected self reports of cognitive biases. We also collected self reports of anxiety, depression, and cognitive biases, and created the following groups: 1) anxious; 2) depressed; 3) anxious‐depressed; 4) comparison. • Symptoms of anxiety and depression are distinguishable in terms of certain cognitive biases, and symptom co‐occurrence may indicate a particularly maladaptive pattern of thinking.
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People high in negative affect tend to think negative events are more likely than positive events (‘probability bias’). Studies have found that weak attentional control exaggerates another negative affect-related cognitive bias – attentional bias – but it is not clear why this might be. We therefore wanted to know whether weak attentional control would be related to probability bias too. Four studies, with predominantly female student samples (N = 857), revealed correlations of around -.38 between attentional control and probability bias. This remained significant when trait anxiety and depression were controlled; there were no interactions between attentional control and negative affect. Studies 3 and 4 found that attentional control’s relationship with probability bias was partly mediated by emotion regulation ability. These results suggest attentional control is important for regulating affect-related cognitive biases, and for emotion regulation in general. Furthermore, because cognitive biases are thought to be important for maintaining emotional disorders, these results are also consistent with weak attentional control being a risk factor for these disorders.
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Resumo O viés atencional corresponde à alocação de recursos de atenção a materiais irrelevantes à tarefa. Supõe-se que pacientes com transtorno obsessivo-compulsivo (TOC) apresentem viés atencional voltado à ameaça. Com o objetivo de descrever os achados neurobiológicos do viés atencional voltado à ameaça no TOC, foi realizada uma busca sistemática por estudos experimentais com investigação neurobiológica nas bases de dados: MEDLINE, Web of Science, Scopus e LILACS. Quatro estudos com grupo controle são descritos nos resultados, todos indicam diferenças estatisticamente significativas na atividade encefálica associada a atenção em pacientes. Os achados neurobiológicos dos estudos incluídos na revisão sugerem a alocação de recursos da atenção a estímulos irrelevantes, independente da valência emocional no TOC.
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Objective: To examine the interaction effect of anxiety and depression on the intentional forgetting of positive and negative valence words. Methods: One hundred fifty-five grade 7 to grade 10 students participated in the study. The item-method directed forgetting paradigm was used to examine the intentional forgetting of positive-valence, negative-valence, and neutral-valence words. Results: Negative-valence words were recognized better than either positive-valence or neutral-valence words. The results revealed an anxiety main effect (p = .01, LLCI = -.09, and ULCI = -.01) and a depression main effect (p = .04, LLCI = .00, and ULCI = .24). The anxiety score was negative, whereas the depression score was positively related to the directed forgetting of negative-valence words. Regression-based moderation analysis revealed a significant anxiety × depression interaction effect on the directed forgetting of positive-valence words (p = .02, LLCI = .00, and ULCI = .01). Greater anxiety was associated with more directed forgetting of positive-valance words only among participants with high depression scores. With negative-valence words, the anxiety × depression interaction effect was not significant (p = .15, LLCI = - .00, and ULCI = .01). Conclusion: Therapeutic strategies to increase positive memory bias may reduce anxiety symptoms only among those with high depression scores. Interventions to reduce negative memory bias may reduce anxiety symptoms irrespective of levels of depression.
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Can prior expectancies shape attention to threat? To answer this question, we manipulated the expectancies of spider phobics and nonfearful controls regarding the appearance of spider and bird targets in a visual search task. We observed robust evidence for expectancy influences on attention to birds, reflected in error rates, reaction times, pupil diameter, and heart rate (HR). We found no solid effect, however, of the same expectancies on attention to spiders; only HR revealed a weak and transient impact of prior expectancies on the orientation of attention to threat. Moreover, these asymmetric effects for spiders versus birds were observed in both phobics and controls. Our results are thus consistent with the notion of a threat detection mechanism that is only partially permeable to current expectancies, thereby increasing chances of survival in situations that are mistakenly perceived as safe.
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Four experiments tested the hypothesis that objects toward which individuals hold attitudes that are highly accessible from memory (i.e., attitude-evoking objects) are more likely to attract attention when presented in a visual display than objects involving less accessible attitudes. In Experiments 1 and 2, Ss were more likely to notice and report such attitude-evoking objects. Experiment 3 yielded evidence of incidental attention; Ss noticed attitude-evoking objects even when the task made it beneficial to ignore the objects. Experiment 4 demonstrated that inclusion of attitude-evoking objects as distractor items interfered with Ss' performance of a visual search task. Apparently, attitude-evoking stimuli attract attention automatically. Thus, accessible attitudes provide the functional benefit of orienting an individual's visual attention toward objects with potential hedonic consequences.
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One of the functions of automatic stimulus evaluation is to direct attention toward events that may have undesirable consequences for the perceiver's well-being. To test whether attentional resources are automatically directed away from an attended task to undesirable stimuli, Ss named the colors in which desirable and undesirable traits (e.g., honest, sadistic) appeared. Across 3 experiments, color-naming latencies were consistently longer for undesirable traits but did not differ within the desirable and undesirable categories. In Experiment 2, Ss also showed more incidental learning for undesirable traits, as predicted by the automatic vigilance (but not a perceptual defense) hypothesis. In Experiment 3, a diagnosticity (or base-rate) explanation of the vigilance effect was ruled out. The implications for deliberate processing in person perception and stereotyping are discussed.
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In previous studies, we have established that anxiety states are characterized by an attentional bias that favors the processing of threatening stimuli. In the present study we extend this finding to ambiguous stimuli, specifically, homophones with spellings that correspond to either a threatening or a neutral meaning. As predicted, clinically anxious subjects used the threatening spellings relatively more than did controls, whereas recovered subjects were intermediate in this respect. Threatening words were associated with greater skin conductance responses than were neutral words, but the groups did not differ in their electrodermal reactions to homophones. We take these findings as evidence that, although the different meanings of ambiguous stimuli may be processed in parallel by all subjects, an interpretive bias operates such that anxiety-prone individuals tend to become preferentially aware of the more threatening meaning of such events.
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Recent research has suggested that anxiety may be associated with processing biases that favor the encoding of emotionally threatening information. However, the available data can be accommodated by alternative explanations, including response bias accounts. The current study introduces a novel paradigm that circumvents such interpretative problems by requiring subjects to make a neutral response (button press) to a neutral stimulus (visual dot probe). The position of this dot probe was manipulted on a VDU (visual display unit) screen relative to visually displayed words, which could either be threat related or neutral in content. Probe detection latency data were then used to determine the impact of threat-related stimuli on the distribution of visual attention. Clinically anxious (but not clinically depressed) subjects consistently shifted attention toward threat words, resulting in reduced detection latencies for probes appearing in the vicinity of such stimuli. Normal control subjects, on the other hand, tended to shift attention away from such material. The results were interpreted as supporting the existence of anxiety-related encoding bias, and it is suggested that this cognitive mechanism may contribute to the maintenance of such mood disorders.
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We tested the hypothesis that an unconscious preattentive perceptual analysis of phobic stimuli is sufficient to elicit human fear responses. Selected snake- and spider-fearful Ss, as well as normal controls, were exposed to pictures of snakes, spiders, flowers, and mushrooms. A separate forced-choice recognition experiment established backward masking conditions that effectively precluded recognition of experimental stimuli both for fearful and nonfearful Ss. In the main experiment, these conditions were used to compare skin conductance responses (SCRs) to masked and nonmasked phobic and control pictures among fearful and nonfearful Ss. In support of the hypotheses, snake- and spider-fearful Ss showed elevated SCRs to snake and spider pictures as compared with neutral pictures and with responses of the nonfearful Ss under both masking conditions. Ratings of valence, arousal, and dominance indicated that the fearful Ss felt more negative, more aroused, and less dominant in relation to both masked and nonmasked phobic stimuli.
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The study investigated selective processing of emotional information in anxiety and depression using a modified Stroop color naming task. Anxious (n = 19), depressed (n = 18), and normal control (n = 18) subjects were required to name the background colors of anxiety-related, depression-related, positive, categorized, and uncategorized neutral words. Half of the words were presented supraliminally, half subliminally. Anxious subjects, compared with depressed and normal subjects, showed relatively slower color naming for both supraliminal and subliminal negative words. The results suggest a preattentive processing bias for negative information in anxiety.
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Previous research has established that anxiety patients demonstrate a cognitive bias that selectively favours the processing of threat related information. The current experiment employs a variant of a well established colour naming paradigm to address three issues concerning the nature of this anxiety linked pattern of selective processing. First, by considering non-clinical subjects and employing an experimental design capable of dissociating the influence of state and trait anxiety, the current study addresses the hypothesis that state anxiety elevations will elicit differential patterns of selectivity in high and low trait anxious subjects. Second, by presenting stimulus materials within or outside awareness, the study addresses the hypothesis that these processing biases occur automatically, without requiring the use of consciously mediated strategies. Third, by including both emotionally valenced stimulus materials which are related to, and which are unrelated to, the particular source of stress experienced by the subjects, the experiment addresses the hypothesis that such anxiety linked processing biases will be restricted to materials falling within the domain of current personal concern. The results of the present study clearly demonstrate that these three issues are not independent. Fundamentally different patterns of anxiety linked selective processing were observed when stimuli were presented outside awareness, permitting only automatic cognitive processing, and when stimuli were presented within awareness, permitting the use of consciously mediated strategies. The relative roles played by state and trait variables, and the degree to which these effects were influenced by the personal relevance of the stimulus materials, differed in each case. The implications of these findings for future research in this field are discussed.
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Three experimentsinvestigated the tendency of high-anxiety individuals to interpretambiguous information in a threatening fashion. Priming ambiguous sentences (concerned with ego-threat, physical-threat, or non-threat events) were presented, followed by a disambiguating sentence in which a target word either confirmed or disconfirmed the consequence implied by the priming context. The sentences were presented word-by-word at a predetermined pace. Subjects read the sentences and pronounced the target word (naming task), which appeared either 500 msec or 1,250 msec after the onset of the last word (pre-target word) in the priming context. Results indicated that high-anxiety subjects named target words confirming threats faster than low-anxiety subjects, relative to non-threat words. Furthermore, this interpretative bias is: (a) strategic, rather than automatic, as it occurred with a 1,250-msec SOA, but not with a 500-msec SOA; (b) temporary, as it was found under evaluative stress conditions increasing state anxiety, butnot withnon-stress; and (c) specificto ego-threats, as it happened with ambiguous information concerning self-esteem and social evaluation, rather than with physical-threat-related information.
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Subjects performed an idiographic, computerised version of the modified Stroop colour-naming task after having undergone a film-induced mood manipulation designed to produce either anxiety, elation, or a neutral mood. The Stroop stimuli were words related either to the subject's positive current concerns (e.g. goals, interests), to the subject's negative current concerns (e.g. personal worries), or to neither. The results indicated that words strongly related to subject's positive as well as to negative current concerns produced significantly more Stroop interference than did words unrelated or weakly related to their current concerns. Although the films strongly influenced the subjects' moods in predicted directions initially, mood changes were largely not maintained throughout the experiment. Thus, it is not surprising that no significant interactions with word type were found. These results indicate that the “emotional Stroop effect” occurs in normal subjects as well as in anxious patients, and occurs with positive as well as with negative material of strong personal relevance.
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Subjects were required to detect either an angry or a happy target face in a stimulus array of 12 photographs. It was found with neutral distractor faces that those high in trait anxiety detected angry faces faster than did low trait-anxious subjects, but the two groups did not differ in their speed of detection of happy targets. In addition, high trait-anxious subjects detected happy target faces slower than low trait-anxious subjects when the distractor faces were angry. Comparable findings were obtained whether or not there was anxious mood induction. It was concluded that high trait-anxious individuals have facilitated detection and processing of environmental threat relative to low trait-anxious subjects, which enhance performance when the target is threatening, but which impair performance when the distractors are threatening.
Article
MacLeod, Mathews, and Tata (1986) found that anxious patients showed a tendency to react faster to a probe stimulus that appeared in the location of a threatening visual word rather than in that of a simultaneous neutral word. In 4 experiments, a total of 104 subjects drawn from the general population were tested on different variations of this task. A relationship to anxiety was confirmed, and it was shown that this relationship did not appear on animal names that also formed a semantically similar set and had an equal probability of being followed by a probe stimulus. Although the effect is therefore dependent on the content of the word, it builds up during the experimental session and is therefore likely to be due to increasing post-attentive awareness of the presence of threatening words.The most reliable results across experiments were found by using Trait rather than State Anxiety, and particularly by fitting a curvilinear relationship such that the exact degree of Anxiety makes little difference at low levels but becomes increasingly important at high levels. If State is used, the best relationship is found with an interaction with Trait, such that State makes more difference at high values of Trait. This means that the effect must be to some extent due to lasting personality characteristics. It is not something that happens to everybody when in a temporary state.
Article
Previous research has established that anxiety patients demonstrate a cognitive bias that selectively favours the processing of threat related information. The current experiment employs a variant of a well established colour naming paradigm to address three issues concerning the nature of this anxiety linked pattern of selective processing. First, by considering non-clinical subjects and employing an experimental design capable of dissociating the influence of state and trait anxiety, the current study addresses the hypothesis that state anxiety elevations will elicit differential patterns of selectivity in high and low trait anxious subjects. Second, by presenting stimulus materials within or outside awareness, the study addresses the hypothesis that these processing biases occur automatically, without requiring the use of consciously mediated strategies. Third, by including both emotionally valenced stimulus materials which are related to, and which are unrelated to, the particular source of stress experienced by the subjects, the experiment addresses the hypothesis that such anxiety linked processing biases will be restricted to materials falling within the domain of current personal concern. The results of the present study clearly demonstrate that these three issues are not independent. Fundamentally different patterns of anxiety linked selective processing were observed when stimuli were presented outside awareness, permitting only automatic cognitive processing, and when stimuli were presented within awareness, permitting the use of consciously mediated strategies. The relative roles played by state and trait variables, and the degree to which these effects were influenced by the personal relevance of the stimulus materials, differed in each case. The implications of these findings for future research in this field are discussed.
Article
Attentional responses to threat stimuli were assessed in anxious patients, normal controls, and subjects who had recovered from a clinical anxiety state. The main aims of the study were: (1) to replicate MacLeod, Mathews, and Tata's (1986) finding of an attentional bias to threat in currently anxious patients compared with normal control subjects; (2) to assess whether the bias is related to the predominant worries of anxious patients; and (3) to investigate whether the bias is present in recovered anxious patients. The original finding of an anxiety-related attentional bias was replicated. The results indicated that the extent to which anxious patients selectively attended to social threat words was associated with the seventy of their social worries. The attentional responses of the recovered anxious group were not significantly differentiated from those of the currently anxious or normal control groups.
Article
Two experiments extended the work of C. MacLeod and A. Mathews (see record 1989-23867-001) and examined whether a cognitive bias for threat information is a function of state or trait anxiety. Color-naming and attention deployment tasks were used to assess the effects of a stress manipulation procedure on attentional responses in high and low trait anxious Ss. Ss under high stress selectively allocated processing resources toward threat stimuli, irrespective of their trait anxiety level. There was no consistent evidence of a cognitive bias associated with trait anxiety, and the effect of the stress manipulation did not apppear to be mediated by state anxiety. It was suggested that trait factors do not modify attentional biases associated with acute stress but may influence such biases when stress is prolonged. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
Investigated selective processing of emotional information in anxiety and depression using a modified Stroop color naming task. 19 anxious, 18 depressed, and 18 normal control Ss were required to name the background colors of anxiety-related, depression-related, positive, categorized, and uncategorized neutral words. Half of the words were presented supraliminally, half subliminally. Anxious Ss, compared with depressed and normal Ss, showed relatively slower color naming for both supraliminal and subliminal negative words. The results suggest a preattentive processing bias for negative information in anxiety. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
In Exp 1, 30 undergraduates saw slides of a novel cartoon character paired with undetectable slides of faces expressing joy or disgust. In a speeded discrimination task, Ss identified previously seen cartoon characters faster as such if those stimuli had been paired with affect-consistent faces. In Exp 2, 72 undergraduates formed an impression of a cartoon character that was paired with undetectable slides of faces expressing joy, disgust, or a neutral expression. Ss in the disgust condition endorsed more negative traits as descriptive of the cartoon and saw the cartoon as more similar to the typical member of negative social categories than did Ss in the joy condition. There is some evidence for the implicit perception of nonverbal affective information. The possible role of undetected affective information in social perception is discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
This study tested the prediction that anxiety, arising from anticipation of a stressful examination (state anxiety), would be associated with an inflation of subjective risk in judgments of negative events related to oneself. The subjective probability of pleasant and unpleasant events was rated on two occasions, 1 month and 1 day before the examination date. Increases in anticipatory anxiety as the examination approached were associated with increased subjective risk of examination failure, while the more stable personality trait of anxiety was associated with perceived risk of all self-referred negative events whether or not they related to examinations. These results were taken as providing general support for a cognitive view of anxiety, in which a relationship exists between state anxiety and the accessibility of information relating to personal threat, while trait anxiety relates to the extent or range of such personally threatening information in memory.
Article
Measures of attention and implicit memory for threatening words were obtained from anxious patients before and after psychological treatment, and compared with data from non-anxious control Ss collected over the same period. Findings confirmed the expectation that the presence of threatening distractors would be associated with greater interference with the performance of anxious patients than with that of controls, in both color-naming and attentional search tasks, but failed to confirm the previous finding of related differences in priming on a word completion task. Treatment significantly reduced selective interference effects in anxious patients, and abolished evidence of differences between the treated patients and controls. It is suggested that cognitive bias effects in anxiety may either depend on state factors alone, or may represent a more enduring individual difference that becomes apparent only when vulnerable individuals are primed by mood state or stressful events.
Article
There is considerable evidence that anxiety is associated with a cognitive bias favouring the processing of threat-related information. Bower's (1981) network model attributes this bias to the enhanced availability of mood congruent information from memory. However, certain experimental tasks do not reveal such a bias, when this effect is strongly predicted by the model. We note that all tasks which have demonstrated such mood congruent processing effects in anxious subjects share the requirement that these subjects must assign priorities to simultaneously available, and differentially valenced, alternative processing options. This feature has been consistently lacking in those paradigms we have found insensitive to the influence of anxiety. It is therefore suggested that anxiety is associated with the assignment of high processing priorities to threat-related options, rather than with the facilitated availability of threat-related information from memory. This proposal was experimentally tested using a lexical decision task, which is sensitive to the accessibility of information from memory, under conditions which either do or do not introduce the requirement to assign priorities to alternative processing options. The results indicate that the facilitated processing of threat related stimulus words, shown by generalised anxiety patients, does indeed appear to reflect a bias in the assignment of processing priorities, rather than the enhanced availability of this information from memory.
Article
Clinical reports suggest that anxiety states are associated with cognitions concerning danger. Since judgements of the risk of an event are thought to be influenced by judgemental heuristics such as availability of cognitive representations of such events, it was hypothesised that anxious individuals should overestimate subjective personal risk. This was confirmed in a comparison with matched control subjects, although patients who were also depressed as well as anxious over-estimated risks to at least the same extent. Results were interpreted as supporting an interaction between anxiety and the availability of ‘danger schemata’.
Article
A modified version of the attentional deployment task developed by MacLeod, Mathews and Tata (1986) [Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 95, 15–20] was used to examine two issues: first, whether there was any evidence of attentional bias in depressed subjects, rather than in anxious subjects alone; and second, whether attentional effects would occur in the location of stimuli that could not be identified. Subjects were presented with pairs of words, one above the other, and the extent to which attention favored threatening rather than neutral words was assessed from the latency to detect a dot in the same location of one them. These detection latencies showed that depressed, but not anxious subjects, were selectively attentive to socially threatening words. There was also evidence for attentional effects in the anxious subjects favoring physically threatening words. Furthermore, panic disorder patients were preferentially attentive to the location of physically-threatening stimuli that could not be accurately identified. Overall, the results provide further evidence that emotionally disturbed subjects tend to orient attention towards personally-relevant emotional stimuli. However, the previous hypothesis that this attentional bias occurs only in anxiety, and not in depression, was not supported.
Article
Recent discoveries about the neural system and cellular mechanisms in pathways mediating classical fear conditioning have provided a foundation for pursuing concurrent connectionist models of this form of emotional learning. The models described are constrained by the known anatomy underlying the behavior being simulated. To date, implementations capture salient features of fear learning, both at the level of behavior and at the level of single cells, and additionally make use of generic biophysical constraints to mimic fundamental excitatory and inhibitory transmission properties. Owing to the modular nature of the systems model, biophysical modeling can be carried out in a single region, in this case the amygdala. Future directions include application of the biophysical model to questions about temporal summation in the two sensory input paths to amygdala, and modeling of an attentional interrupt signal that will extend the emotional processing model to interactions with cognitive systems.
Article
Three experiments are reported comparing high- and low-trait anxious subjects in terms of their patterns of semantic activation in response to ambiguous primes, with one threat-related and one neutral meaning. Such primes were followed by targets related to either their threat or neutral meaning, or by unrelated targets, in a lexical decision task. Experiments 1 to 3 employed stimulus onset asynchronies (SOAs) of 750 msec, 500 msec, and 1250 msec, respectively. At 500-msec SOA all subjects showed facilitation for both meanings. At 750-msec SOA the only significant priming effect was that for the threat-related meaning in the high-anxiety group, and a similar trend was found at 1250-msec SOA. Consideration of the patterns of priming for targets following ambiguous threat/neutral primes suggest that at the longer SOAs, high-anxiety subjects consciously "lock on" to a threatening interpretation if one has been made available by earlier automatic spreading activation.
Article
In the 1st of 2 experiments, currently clinically anxious, recovered clinically anxious, and normal control subjects were presented with a mixture of unambiguous and ambiguous sentences; both threatening and nonthreatening interpretations were possible for the latter. A subsequent recognition-memory test indicated that the currently anxious subjects were more likely than normal control and recovered anxious subjects to interpret the ambiguous sentences in a threatening fashion rather than in a nonthreatening fashion. This suggests that the biased interpretation of ambiguity found in currently anxious subjects reflected their anxious mood state. A 2nd experiment established that the difference in interpretative processes between currently anxious and control subjects was not due to response bias and that the interpretative bias was a reasonably general one.
Article
Two experimental tasks were used to investigate the nature of a previously documented bias in attention associated with anxiety. Results from the first task failed to reveal any differences between anxious and nonanxious subjects, either in attention focusing or selective search for letters. The second task, with words as targets and distractors, suggested that selective search was less efficient in anxious subjects when distractors were present. Currently anxious subjects were slower than controls when required to search for the target among distractors of any type, whereas both currently anxious and recovered subjects were slower when the distractors were threatening words. It was therefore suggested that a bias favoring threat cues during perceptual search is an enduring feature of individuals vulnerable to anxiety, rather than a transient consequence of current mood state alone.
Article
Using a probe detection technique we have recently demonstrated that anxious subjects consistently deploy attention towards threat-related stimuli, whereas non-anxious controls tend to move attention away from such material (MacLeod, Mathews, & Tata, 1986). The current study employed the same paradigm but attempted to distinguish the role of trait and state anxiety by testing high- and low-trait students when state anxiety was relatively low (12 weeks before a major examination) and again when it was relatively high (one week before this examination). High-trait subjects alone tended to shift attention towards generally threatening material on both test occasions. Results for examination-related stimuli were more complex. Increased proximity to the examination was associated with an increase in attentional bias towards such threat stimuli in high-trait subjects, but with increased attentional avoidance of such stimuli in low-trait subjects. It is suggested that the attentional response to currently relevant stress-related stimuli may be associated with neither trait nor state anxiety alone, but with an interactive function involving both these variables. These results are discussed in relation to existing models of emotion and cognition, and alternative interpretations of the findings are considered.
Article
Predictions from a cognitive schema model of anxiety were tested by comparing generally anxious patients and normal controls on their incidental recall of positive and negative, threatening and nonthreatening, self- and other-referenced words. There was no evidence of a self-referent recall bias favoring negative or threatening words in anxiety. Contrary to expectation, the results indicated relatively poorer memory for threatening material in anxious patients. We argue that the cognitive schema model could not adequately account for these and other recent research findings and suggest an alternative formulation of information-processing biases in anxiety. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
Although certain neurophysiological functions of the amygdala complex in learning seem well established, the purpose of this review is to propose that an additional conceptualization of amygdala function is now needed. The research we review provides evidence that a subsystem within the amygdala provides a coordinated regulation of attentional processes. An important aspect of this additional neuropsychology of the amygdala is that it may aid in understanding the importance of connections between the amygdala and other neural systems in information processing.
Article
The source of interference with color-naming emotional words in clinical anxiety was investigated using word sets that were varied in valence and in their judged relationship to the concerns of anxious patients. Results showed that neither valence nor general emotionality was of critical importance in predicting extent of interference. In contrast, words that were judged to be highly related to likely concerns or relevant threats caused more interference than those which were not, irrespective of their positive or negative valence. These results suggest the need to modify earlier formulations of emotional Stroop effects, and may help to explain the variable results obtained in previous investigations.
Article
Attentional bias is a central feature of many cognitive theories of psychopathology. One of the most frequent methods of investigating such bias has been an emotional analog of the Stroop task. In this task, participants name the colors in which words are printed, and the words vary in their relevance to each theme of psychopathology. The authors review research showing that patients are often slower to name the color of a word associated with concerns relevant to their clinical condition. They address the causes and mechanisms underlying the phenomenon, focusing on J.D. Cohen, K. Dunbar, and J.L. McClelland's (1990) parallel distributed processing model.
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