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J Abnorm Psychol. 2006 Nov;115(4):760-70.

Orienting and maintenance of gaze to facial expressions in social anxiety.

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  • 1Division of Clinical Neurosciences, School of Medicine, University of Southampton, Southampton, United Kingdom.


In 2 experiments, the authors tested predictions from cognitive models of social anxiety regarding attentional biases for social and nonsocial cues by monitoring eye movements to pictures of faces and objects in high social anxiety (HSA) and low social anxiety (LSA) individuals. Under no-stress conditions (Experiment 1), HSA individuals initially directed their gaze toward neutral faces, relative to objects, more often than did LSA participants. However, under social-evaluative stress (Experiment 2), HSA individuals showed reduced biases in initial orienting and maintenance of gaze on faces (cf. objects) compared with the LSA group. HSA individuals were also relatively quicker to look at emotional faces than neutral faces but looked at emotional faces for less time, compared with LSA individuals, consistent with a vigilant-avoidant pattern of bias.

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