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Biases in Visual Selective Attention. Trait Anxious Individuals Avert Their Gaze From Unpleasant Stimuli

Rohner, Jean-Christophe LU (2002)
Abstract (Swedish)
Popular Abstract in Swedish

Enligt vissa teorier så har individer med ångest en benägenhet att rikta sin uppmärksamhet mot negativa emotionella stimuli i omgivningen, medan de inte uppmärksammar positiva stimuli. Detta kan ta sig i uttryck i att de tittar mer på eller blir mer distraherade av till exempel arga ansikten, otäcka bilder eller negativa ord. Det övergripande syftet med avhandlingen var att undersöka denna frågeställning. Inget av de experiment som gjordes här kunde dock bekräfta teorierna ovan. En sammanfattande analys av alla försök i avhandlingen visade tvärtom att individer med ångest är mer benägna än andra individer att titta bort från negativa stimuli. Även om den var statistiskt säkerställd så var dock... (More)
Popular Abstract in Swedish

Enligt vissa teorier så har individer med ångest en benägenhet att rikta sin uppmärksamhet mot negativa emotionella stimuli i omgivningen, medan de inte uppmärksammar positiva stimuli. Detta kan ta sig i uttryck i att de tittar mer på eller blir mer distraherade av till exempel arga ansikten, otäcka bilder eller negativa ord. Det övergripande syftet med avhandlingen var att undersöka denna frågeställning. Inget av de experiment som gjordes här kunde dock bekräfta teorierna ovan. En sammanfattande analys av alla försök i avhandlingen visade tvärtom att individer med ångest är mer benägna än andra individer att titta bort från negativa stimuli. Även om den var statistiskt säkerställd så var dock denna effekt ganska liten. Benägenheten att titta bort från arga ansikten ska alltså inte ses som en viktig orsak till varför man har ångest; istället bör man dra slutsatsen att vissa människor tidigt i varseblivningsprocessen ibland väljer att sålla bort hotande information. Det fanns också andra intressanta fynd i var och en av studierna. Ett experiment visade till exempel att man ibland vänder bort blicken från arga ansikten utan att vara medveten om att man gör detta. Det är uppenbart att resultaten i avhandlingen inte stämmer med ångestteorierna som nämndes ovan; en genomgång av tidigare forskning visar dock att det föreligger metodologiska problem i den forskning som teorierna baseras på. (Less)
Abstract
Cognitive models of anxiety postulate that anxious individuals are inclined to pay more attention to negative than to positive emotional visual stimuli. The main aim of the present dissertation was to test this prediction, employing a measure of the direction of gaze. In studies I, II and III the participants were shown pairs of angry and happy faces on a screen. In Study IV the stimuli were pleasant and unpleasant pictures. None of the studies could confirm the hypothesis of a positive relation between anxiety and the tendency to orient one’s attention towards unpleasant stimuli. In studies I and III, anxious individuals were instead found to avert their gaze from angry faces. A meta-analysis of Studies I, II, III and IV, with a total of... (More)
Cognitive models of anxiety postulate that anxious individuals are inclined to pay more attention to negative than to positive emotional visual stimuli. The main aim of the present dissertation was to test this prediction, employing a measure of the direction of gaze. In studies I, II and III the participants were shown pairs of angry and happy faces on a screen. In Study IV the stimuli were pleasant and unpleasant pictures. None of the studies could confirm the hypothesis of a positive relation between anxiety and the tendency to orient one’s attention towards unpleasant stimuli. In studies I and III, anxious individuals were instead found to avert their gaze from angry faces. A meta-analysis of Studies I, II, III and IV, with a total of 405 participants, suggested the same conclusion, even if Studies II and IV failed to show such an effect. A review of the empirical evidence on anxiety and visual selective attention raised the possibility that other experiments have confounded stimulus emotionality and stimulus valence, and that the results from these experiments are consistent with the notion that anxiety is connected with a tendency to pay more attention to emotional stimuli (positive and negative), rather than to a tendency to pay more attention to negative stimuli. The present studies considered this potential confound and found that anxious individuals avert their gaze from negative stimuli, more than from positive stimuli. Study III also showed that an individual can avert his or her gaze from the position of angry faces without having any conscious knowledge of doing so. (Less)
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author
opponent
  • Bradley, Brendan P.
organization
publishing date
type
Thesis
publication status
published
subject
keywords
Psykologi, Psychology, eye-movements, attentional biases, Anxiety, attention
pages
77 pages
publisher
Department of Psychology, Lund University
defense location
Samarkand
defense date
2002-02-21 10:15
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
df630b1e-ddac-48f2-ab39-a5fc6f1c5160 (old id 464283)
date added to LUP
2007-09-11 11:23:11
date last changed
2016-09-19 08:45:15
@phdthesis{df630b1e-ddac-48f2-ab39-a5fc6f1c5160,
  abstract     = {Cognitive models of anxiety postulate that anxious individuals are inclined to pay more attention to negative than to positive emotional visual stimuli. The main aim of the present dissertation was to test this prediction, employing a measure of the direction of gaze. In studies I, II and III the participants were shown pairs of angry and happy faces on a screen. In Study IV the stimuli were pleasant and unpleasant pictures. None of the studies could confirm the hypothesis of a positive relation between anxiety and the tendency to orient one’s attention towards unpleasant stimuli. In studies I and III, anxious individuals were instead found to avert their gaze from angry faces. A meta-analysis of Studies I, II, III and IV, with a total of 405 participants, suggested the same conclusion, even if Studies II and IV failed to show such an effect. A review of the empirical evidence on anxiety and visual selective attention raised the possibility that other experiments have confounded stimulus emotionality and stimulus valence, and that the results from these experiments are consistent with the notion that anxiety is connected with a tendency to pay more attention to emotional stimuli (positive and negative), rather than to a tendency to pay more attention to negative stimuli. The present studies considered this potential confound and found that anxious individuals avert their gaze from negative stimuli, more than from positive stimuli. Study III also showed that an individual can avert his or her gaze from the position of angry faces without having any conscious knowledge of doing so.},
  author       = {Rohner, Jean-Christophe},
  keyword      = {Psykologi,Psychology,eye-movements,attentional biases,Anxiety,attention},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {77},
  publisher    = {Department of Psychology, Lund University},
  school       = {Lund University},
  title        = {Biases in Visual Selective Attention. Trait Anxious Individuals Avert Their Gaze From Unpleasant Stimuli},
  year         = {2002},
}