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23-10-2020 | Original Article | Uitgave 3/2021

Cognitive Therapy and Research 3/2021

Attention Deployment to the Eye Region of Emotional Faces among Adolescents with and without Social Anxiety Disorder

Tijdschrift:
Cognitive Therapy and Research > Uitgave 3/2021
Auteurs:
Nicole N. Capriola-Hall, Thomas H. Ollendick, Susan W. White
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Abstract

Background

Avoidance of the eye region, especially of faces showing anger, may maintain social anxiety symptoms by negatively reinforcing expectations and fears associated with social situations. Eye-tracking research, however, has yet to explicitly examine differences in attention allocation to the eye region of emotional faces among adolescents with social anxiety disorder (SAD).

Methods

Gaze patterns were explored in a sample of youth with and without SAD matched on age and sex.

Results

Adolescents with SAD were quicker to fixate, and maintained their initial gaze longer, to the eye region, regardless of emotion, relative to teens without SAD. Group-level differences also emerged for initial fixation duration directed to the eye region of angry faces (when compared with happy faces).

Conclusions

These findings suggest that vigilance to the eye region of faces, especially angry faces, (when compared with happy faces) is characteristic of adolescents with SAD. Adolescents with SAD seem drawn to the eye region, more so than teens without SAD.

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