Individual differences in perceptual sensitivity and response bias in anxiety: Evidence from emotional faces

Tahl Frenkel, Dominique Lamy, Daniel Algom, Yair Bar-Haim*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations

Abstract

We investigated the perception of emotional stimuli in anxious individuals and non-anxious cohorts. Signal detection theory analysis was applied to the discrimination of emotionally charged faces at several points along a continuum of emotional intensity. This design permitted the derivation of multiple measures of sensitivity and response bias for fearful and for happy faces. Anxious individuals lacked a conservative bias in judging fearful stimuli and a liberal bias in judging positive stimuli compared with non-anxious individuals. In addition, anxious participants had lower perceptual sensitivity (d') than non-anxious participants for mildly threatening stimuli, as well as a trend towards lower perceptual sensitivity for moderately positive stimuli. These results suggest that the processing of threat information in anxiety is affected by sensitivity and bias differently at different levels of affective intensity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)688-700
Number of pages13
JournalCognition and Emotion
Volume23
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 2009

Funding

FundersFunder number
National Institute for Psychobiology in Israel
Israel Science Foundation989/03

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