Increased attention allocation to socially threatening faces in social anxiety disorder: A replication study

Amit Lazarov*, Dana Basel, Sarah Dolan, Daniel G. Dillon, Diego A. Pizzagalli, Franklin R. Schneier

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Threat-related attention bias has been implicated in the etiology and maintenance of social anxiety disorder (SAD), with attentional research increasingly using eye-tracking methodology to overcome the poor psychometric properties of response-time-based tasks and measures. Yet, extant eye-tracking research in social anxiety has mostly failed to report on psychometrics and attempts to replicate past results are rare. Therefore, we attempted to replicate a previously published eye-tracking study of gaze patterns in socially anxious and nonanxious participants as they viewed social threatening and neutral faces, while also exploring the psychometric properties of the attentional measures used. Methods: Gaze was monitored as participants freely viewed 60 different matrices comprised of eight socially-threatening and eight neutral faces, presented for 6000 ms each. Gaze patterns directed at threat and neutral areas of interest (AOIs) were compared by group. Internal consistency and test-retest reliability were also evaluated. Results: Relative to healthy controls, socially anxious patients dwelled significantly longer on threat faces, replicating prior findings with the same task. Internal consistency of total dwell time on threat and neutral AOIs was high, and two-week test-retest reliability was acceptable. Limitations: Test-retest reliability was only examined for the control group, which had a small sample size. Conclusion: Increased dwell time on socially threatening stimuli is a reliable, stable, and generalizable measure of attentional bias in adults with social anxiety.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)169-177
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2021


FundersFunder number
BlackThorn Therapeutics
Millennium Pharmaceuticals
National Institute of Mental HealthR37 MH068376, R61MH116089
Brain and Behavior Research Foundation
Dana Foundation
Boehringer Ingelheim
Takeda Pharmaceutical Company
Israel Science Foundation374/20


    • Eye tracking, Attention allocation, Attention bias
    • Reliability
    • Replicability
    • Social anxiety disorder


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