• Attentional bias towards threatening and neutral facial expressions in high trait anxious children.

      Kelly, Lauren; Maratos, Frances A.; Lipka, Sigrid; Croker, Steve; University of Derby (2016-07-03)
      Research suggests anxious children display increased attentional biases for threat-related stimuli. However, findings based upon spatial domain research are equivocal. Moreover, few studies allow for the independent analysis of trials containing neutral (i.e., potentially ambiguous) faces. Here, we report two temporal attentional blink experiments with high trait anxious (HTA) and low trait anxious (LTA) children. In an emotive experiment, we manipulated the valence of the second target (T2: threatening/positive/neutral). Results revealed that HTA, relative to LTA, children demonstrated better performance on neutral trials. Additionally, HTA children demonstrated a threat-superiority effect whereas LTA children demonstrated an emotion-superiority effect. In a non-emotive control, no differences between HTA and LTA children were observed. Results suggest trait anxiety is associated with an attentional bias for threat in children. Additionally, the neutral face finding suggests HTA children bias attention towards ambiguity. These findings could have important implications for current anxiety disorder research and treatments.