An investigation of preattentive selective visual processing and anxiety across adult and child samples

Ms Felisa Golingi (). An investigation of preattentive selective visual processing and anxiety across adult and child samples Professional Doctorate, School of Psychology, The University of Queensland.

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Author Ms Felisa Golingi
Thesis Title An investigation of preattentive selective visual processing and anxiety across adult and child samples
School, Centre or Institute School of Psychology
Institution The University of Queensland
Thesis type Professional Doctorate
Supervisor Dr Troy Visser
Professor Paula Barrett
Total pages 167
Total colour pages 5
Total black and white pages 162
Abstract/Summary Many studies have shown that individuals with anxiety have a bias towards attending to and processing objects that are threatening in nature when compared to individuals with low levels of anxiety. Fewer studies, however, have assessed the presence of biases in visual processing during various stages of visual sensory encoding. To this end, the current study investigated the effects of state and trait anxiety on preconscious selective attention towards threat, by employing attentional blink (AB) and object-substitution masking (OSM) paradigms, in which participants viewed neutral or angry face targets. A second area that has received little attention is how threat processing occurs in anxious children compared to their adult counterparts. To investigate this issue, we tested both adult (Study 1) and child (Study 2) participants. Study 1 involved one hundred 1st year psychology students who completed a self report scale (STAI) yielding scores of Trait and State anxiety. Study 2 involved seventy-four children aged between 7- 12 years who completed the STAI-C. Results indicated that adults with High State Anxiety displayed a reduced attentional blink (AB) which was not affected by target type. However, a reliable AB was not found for children in the current study, a finding that was most likely impacted by the task difficulty and age group used, rather than by anxiety per se. Results from the OSM task indicated that adults and children, irrespective of anxiety level, were generally more vigilant for threat than neutral faces. Moreover, in the adult sample, increased State and Trait Anxiety was linked with more masking overall. By contrast, in the child sample, there was no effect of anxiety on OSM. These findings suggest that adults engage in early level suppression of threatening information while children do not, perhaps broadly indicating that anxiety may shape perception, rather than visual perceptual pathways shaping anxiety development.
Keyword preattentive selective visual processing and anxiety
Selective Attention
Attentional Biases
preconscious processing
Attentional blink
object substitution masking
Additional Notes Pages to be printed in colour: pages 71, 74, 75, 90, 91

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Created: Mon, 18 Oct 2010, 20:56:33 EST by Ms Felisa Golingi