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A comparison of selective attention and facial processing biases in typically developing children who are high and low in self-reported trait anxiety

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  25 April 2007

University of London
University of London
University of London
University of Southampton
University of Southampton


The relationship between children's anxiety and cognitive biases was examined in two tasks. A group of 50 children aged 10 to 11 years (mean = 11 years, SD = 3.71 months) was given two tasks. The first tested children's selective attention (SA) to threat in an emotional Stroop task. The second explored facial processing biases using morphed angry-neutral and happy-neutral emotional expressions that varied in intensity. Faces with varying levels of emotion (25% emotion–75% neutral, 50% emotion–50% neutral, 100% emotion–0% neutral [prototype] and 150% emotion–0% neutral [caricature]) were judged as being angry or happy. Results support previous work highlighting a link between anxiety and SA to threat. In addition, increased anxiety in late childhood is associated with decreased ability to discriminate facial expression. Finally, lack of discrimination in the emotional expression task was related to lack of inhibition to threat in the Stroop task.

Research Article
© 2007 Cambridge University Press

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