The effect of anxiety on impression formation: affect-congruent or stereotypic biases?

G.J. Curtis, Vance Locke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Two classes of theories propose that anxious individuals will form either more affect-congruent or more stereotypic impressions of others. These theories' predictions are not mutually exclusive. Eighty-one participants were examined to determine if either class of theories was more descriptive of the effect of anxiety on impression formation or whether a theory combining elements of both was more appropriate. Anxious participants read behavioural descriptions about an Australian Aboriginal target that were stereotypic, non-stereotypic, threatening, and non-threatening, and rated the target on traits that corresponded to the behavioural descriptions. Anxious participants formed impressions that were more affect-congruent, but not more stereotypic, than those formed by control participants. This result was replicated in a field study with 61 participants who were waiting to see a dentist. Future studies should examine the cognitive mechanisms that influence and underlie anxious affect-congruent impression formation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-83
JournalThe British Journal of Social Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2005


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