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22-08-2019 | Original Article | Uitgave 1/2020

Cognitive Therapy and Research 1/2020

Gaze as an Indicator of Selective Attention in Adolescents with Social Anxiety Disorder

Cognitive Therapy and Research > Uitgave 1/2020
Nicole N. Capriola-Hall, Thomas H. Ollendick, Susan W. White
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The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​s10608-019-10038-7) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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Attention bias, conceptualized to be involved in the development and maintenance of SAD, may differentiate teens with SAD from those without. Although SAD typically emerges during adolescence, eye-tracking research has not explicitly focused on biased attention in adolescents with SAD relative to healthy controls, using stimuli specifically developed for adolescents, thus prompting the rationale for the present study. Youth with SAD were quicker to fixate their gaze on angry faces and maintained their gaze longer toward both angry and neutral faces. Findings suggest that socially anxious teenagers demonstrate bias, relative to teens without SAD. The bias is marked by shortened latency to fixate on angry faces. Additionally, given that the adolescents with SAD also exhibited longer initial fixation duration to both angry and neutral faces, relative to controls, these results suggest the possibility of heightened reactivity to social stimuli regardless of emotional valence. Alternatively, it may be the case, that youth with SAD perceive neutral faces as threatening. Given the role attention bias plays in the etiology and maintenance of SAD, better understanding of the cognitive processes which underlie the disorder is warranted. The current study offers initial findings for informing treatment for adolescents with the condition.

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