Attentional biases toward threat: The concomitant presence of difficulty of disengagement and attentional avoidance in low trait anxious individuals

Laura Sagliano, Luigi Trojano, Katja Amoriello, Michela Migliozzi, Francesca D'Olimpio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Attentional biases toward threats (ABTs) have been described in high anxious individuals and in clinical samples whereas they have been rarely reported in non-clinical samples (Bar-Haim et al., 2007; Cisler and Koster, 2010). Three kinds of ABTs have been identified (facilitation, difficulty of disengagement, and avoidance) but their mechanisms and time courses are still unclear. This study aimed to understand ABTs mechanisms and timing in low trait anxiety (LTA) and high trait anxiety (HTA) anxious individuals. In particular, in an exogenous cueing task we used threatening or neutral stimuli as peripheral cues with three presentation times (100, 200, or 500 ms). The main results showed that HTA individuals have an attentional facilitation bias at 100 ms (likely automatic in nature) whereas LTA individuals show attentional avoidance and difficulty to disengage from threatening stimuli at 200 ms (likely related to a strategic processing). Such findings demonstrate that threat biases attention with specific mechanisms and time courses, and that anxiety levels modulate attention allocation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number685
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Volume5
Issue numberJUL
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Keywords

  • Anxiety
  • Attentional bias
  • Avoidance
  • Disengagement
  • Spatial attention
  • Threat

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

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