Impaired identification of fearful faces in Generalised Social Phobia

Garner, M., Baldwin, D.S., Bradley, B.P. and Mogg, K. (2009) Impaired identification of fearful faces in Generalised Social Phobia. Journal of Affective Disorders, 115, (3), 460-465. (doi:10.1016/j.jad.2008.10.020).


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Background. Cognitive models and interventions for anxiety assume that socially anxious individuals interpret ambiguous social information in a threatening manner. However, experimental evidence for this hypothesised cognitive bias is mixed. The present study is novel in using a signal detection approach to clarify whether Generalised Social Phobia (GSP) is associated with biased identification of emotionally ambiguous facial expressions.
Methods. 16 patients with GSP and 17 non-anxious volunteers classified ambiguous emotional facial expressions, with each face reflecting a blend of two emotions: angry-happy, fearful-happy and fearful-angry. Discrimination accuracy and response criterion were assessed.
Results. Patients with GSP showed significantly poorer discrimination of ambiguous emotional facial expressions that contained an element of fear (i.e., fearful-happy and fearful-angry expressions), compared to non-anxious controls. The groups did not significantly differ in discrimination of faces which lacked fear content (i.e., angry-happy blend), or on measures of response criterion.
Limitations. Small sample size, coexisting depressive symptoms.
Conclusions. Findings indicate a selective impairment in fear identification in GSP. Results are discussed with reference to neurocognitive models of anxiety, and research on serotonergic modulation of emotional face processing.

Item Type: Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): doi:10.1016/j.jad.2008.10.020
ISSNs: 0165-0327 (print)
Related URLs:
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
R Medicine > RZ Other systems of medicine
Divisions : University Structure - Pre August 2011 > School of Medicine > Clinical Neurosciences
University Structure - Pre August 2011 > School of Psychology > Division of Clinical Neuroscience
ePrint ID: 63596
Accepted Date and Publication Date:
Date Deposited: 20 Oct 2008
Last Modified: 31 Mar 2016 12:48

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