Social Anxiety-Linked Attention Bias to Threat Is Indirectly Related to Post-Event Processing Via Subjective Emotional Reactivity to Social Stress

Demet Çek, Alvaro Sánchez, Kiara R Timpano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Scopus citations

Abstract

Attention bias to threat (e.g., disgust faces) is a cognitive vulnerability factor for social anxiety occurring in early stages of information processing. Few studies have investigated the relationship between social anxiety and attention biases, in conjunction with emotional and cognitive responses to a social stressor. Elucidating these links would shed light on maintenance factors of social anxiety and could help identify malleable treatment targets. This study examined the associations between social anxiety level, attention bias to disgust (AB-disgust), subjective emotional and physiological reactivity to a social stressor, and subsequent post-event processing (PEP). We tested a mediational model where social anxiety level indirectly predicted subsequent PEP via its association with AB-disgust and immediate subjective emotional reactivity to social stress. Fifty-five undergraduates (45% female) completed a passive viewing task. Eye movements were tracked during the presentation of social stimuli (e.g., disgust faces) and used to calculate AB-disgust. Next, participants gave an impromptu speech in front of a video camera and watched a neutral video, followed by the completion of a PEP measure. Although there was no association between AB-disgust and physiological reactivity to the stressor, AB-disgust was significantly associated with greater subjective emotional reactivity from baseline to the speech. Analyses supported a partial mediation model where AB-disgust and subjective emotional reactivity to a social stressor partially accounted for the link between social anxiety levels and PEP.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)377-387
Number of pages11
JournalBehavior Therapy
Volume47
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2016

Keywords

  • Attention bias
  • Disgust
  • Emotional reactivity
  • Post-event processing
  • Social anxiety

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology

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