OSR Journal of Student Research

Article Title

Anxiety, Emotional Stimuli, and Attentional Scope.


Recent studies show anxiety interferes with attention. The attentional scope model (ASM) argues that negative and positive moods modulate the scope of attention: a negative affect constricts, and a positive affect expands attention scope. In the present study, we investigated interactions of state anxiety, affective (emotional) stimuli, and performance in a flanker task. Eriksen-type flanker tasks studies, with emotional faces, typically show flanker compatibility effects for positive targets but not negative targets; consistent with the ASM. However, these studies did not include mood. Therefore, we investigated effects of mood states (high vs. low state anxiety) on an emotional flanker task. Participants (n=158) were healthy college students. State anxiety was measured with the State Trait Anxiety Inventory. Participants judged whether the target face, between two flankers at near or far locations, was happy or sad: producing a 2 (Anxiety: High vs. Low) X 2 (Target face: Happy vs. Sad) X 2 (Distance: Near vs. Far) X 3 (Compatibility: Compatible vs. Neutral vs. Incompatible) mixed design. Smaller compatibility effects were found for the Sad face Near, than Happy face Near condition. Suggesting attentional scope was narrowed with Sad targets, but broadened with Happy targets. The High State Anxiety (HSA) group showed longer RTs than Low Anxiety, suggesting HSA individuals were more affected by emotional stimuli. Anxiety effected executive functions, and emotional stimuli modulated inhibitory components of attentional scope. Specifically, anxiety level effected the rate of physiological response, and emotional stimuli produced a regulation in the range of stimuli permitted neural processing.

This document is currently not available here.