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Anxiety-related biases in children's avoidant responses to a masked angry face

Lau, J.Y.F.; Viding, E.; (2007) Anxiety-related biases in children's avoidant responses to a masked angry face. Behaviour Research and Therapy , 45 (7) pp. 1639-1645. 10.1016/j.brat.2006.08.006.

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Abstract

While anxious children often show escape and withdrawal behaviours towards threats, few studies have experimentally assessed avoidance. The present study examined whether children with high levels of anxiety showed more avoidant responses to a neutral conditioned cue (CS+) that was paired with an unconditioned threat stimulus (UCS), a masked angry facial expression. Thirty-six 10 and 11 year-olds participated in a task, which involved choosing between two CS card stimuli of different colours to win points. Whilst both cards awarded the same number of points, one colour was systematically paired with a masked angry face (CS+), whilst the other colour was paired with a masked neutral face (CS−). Children with higher anxiety scores had an overall tendency to choose the card associated with the neutral face, with some evidence suggesting that this tendency emerged gradually across trials. These results suggest a relationship between anxiety and stimulus–response learning for CS+–UCS associations that support behavioural avoidance.

Type: Article
Title: Anxiety-related biases in children's avoidant responses to a masked angry face
DOI: 10.1016/j.brat.2006.08.006
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.brat.2006.08.006
Language: English
Keywords: Anxiety, avoidance, children, facial expressions, fear conditioning
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Clinical, Edu and Hlth Psychology
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/5838
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