Prepared for the Worst: Readiness to Acquire Threat Bias and Susceptibility to Elevate Trait Anxiety

Patrick Clarke, Colin Macleod, Nicole Shirazee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

43 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Although people differ in their susceptibility to elevate trait anxiety in response to extended stress, little is known about the cognitive substrate of this particular individual difference. We report three studies designed to evaluate the hypothesis that individual differences in readiness to acquire an attentional bias toward threat cues, in response to a contingency that makes the acquisition of such a bias adaptive, underlie individual differences in susceptibility to elevate trait anxiety in response to extended stress. Our findings confirm that the ease with which such a threat bias can be transiently evoked by experimental conditions that encourage its acquisition predicts the degree to which trait anxiety later becomes elevated by extended exposure to a mild stressor. Furthermore, this reflects the fact that such early measures of attentional bias plasticity predict the later naturalistic acquisition of attentional bias in response to subsequent stress, which in turn is associated with a consequent increase in trait anxiety level. These findings are consistent with our proposed account of individual differences in susceptibility to elevate trait anxiety in response to stress.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-57
JournalEmotion
Volume8
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2008

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