Send to

Choose Destination
Emotion. 2013 Jun;13(3):520-8. doi: 10.1037/a0031236. Epub 2013 Jan 28.

There's more to anxiety than meets the eye: isolating threat-related attentional engagement and disengagement biases.

Author information

Department of Psychology, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.


Threat-related attentional biases represent a basic survival mechanism. These biases include an engagement bias involving rapid direction of attention toward threat and a disengagement bias involving slow direction of attention away from threat. The exact nature of these biases in healthy and anxious individuals remains controversial because of the challenges associated with accurately isolating each of these attentional biases. Combining a cognitive attentional task with classical conditioning using electric stimulation, we created a new paradigm that makes it possible to more clearly isolate these attentional biases. Utilizing this novel paradigm, we detected both types of attentional bias and differentiated between levels of trait anxiety, in which low- and high-trait anxiety individuals showed equal levels of engagement bias, but only high-trait anxiety individuals showed impaired disengagement from threat.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for American Psychological Association
Loading ...
Support Center