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    Tuning in to anxiety-related differences in attentional control: apprehension of threat improves template switching during visual search

    Berggren, Nick and Eimer, Martin (2021) Tuning in to anxiety-related differences in attentional control: apprehension of threat improves template switching during visual search. Emotion 21 (5), pp. 1083-1090. ISSN 1528-3542.

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    Anxiety is believed to disrupt selective attention, supported by evidence that both individual differences in trait anxious personality and induced apprehensive mood can increase distractibility during visual search. While much research has focused on the role of anxiety-related emotion in affecting the ability to ‘tune-out’ irrelevant information, there is a scarcity of research on its possible role in affecting the ‘tuning-in’ of attention to relevant information. Here, we examined the role of both trait anxiety and induced apprehension on the efficiency to maintain one or more target templates to guide attentional selection during visual search, and the switch between search templates. In different blocks, participants searched for target objects defined by a single constant color (one-color-search), or by one of two possible colors (two-color search). Trait anxiety was measured by self-report questionnaire, and apprehensive mood was induced in a subset of ‘threat’ blocks, where loud aversive noise was occasionally presented. Relative to ‘safe’ blocks, search RTs were generally faster in ‘threat’ blocks. Crucially, induced apprehension also reduced target color switch costs during two-color search. No relationship between trait anxiety and performance was observed. These results show that acute apprehension can affect ‘tuning in’ functions of attentional control, by paradoxically improving the efficiency of switching target templates during visual search. Influences of trait anxious personality may be mainly confined to ‘tuning out’ processes of attention.


    Item Type: Article
    Additional Information: ©American Psychological Association 201x. This paper is not the copy of record and may not exactly replicate the authoritative document published in the APA journal. Please do not copy or cite without author's permission. The final article is available, upon publication, at the DOI cited above.
    Keyword(s) / Subject(s): Anxiety, Threat, Attentional control, Visual search, Task switching
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Science > School of Psychological Sciences
    Depositing User: Nick Berggren
    Date Deposited: 12 Jan 2021 16:11
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 18:06


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