Eye-movement evidence of the time-course of attentional bias for threatening pictures in test-anxious students
until further notice
SourceCognition & Emotion, 31, 4, (2017), pp. 781-790
9 december 2016
Article / Letter to editor
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Cognition & Emotion
SubjectInstitute for Management Research
Protocols for measuring attentional bias to threat in test-anxiety, a special form of trait-anxiety, are rarely found in the literature. In our eye-tracking study, we introduced a new protocol, and studied the time-course of attention to test-related pictures with varying threat levels in 22 high test-anxious (HTA) and 22 low test-anxious (LTA) subjects. To determine whether attentional bias to test-related pictures is due to test-anxiety and not to state-anxiety, we also included a third group of 22 subjects with high state-anxiety but low test-anxiety (HSA). The subjects completed a free viewing task (FVT) in which high threat-neutral (HT-N) and low threat-neutral (LT-N) picture pairs were presented for 3 s. The results demonstrated that: (1) HTA subjects showed initial orienting to LT pictures, early attentional engagement with HT pictures later on and avoidance of HT pictures at the very end; (2) LTA subjects showed initial orienting to HT pictures and maintenance of attention on them later on; while (3) HSA subjects showed an initial orientation towards LT pictures and maintenance of attention on LT and HT pictures later on. These results suggest that, (high) test-anxiety is also prone to attentional bias towards test-related threat stimuli. Implications for future research are discussed.
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