Only a few studies investigated whether animal phobics exhibit attentional biases in contexts where no phobic stimuli are present. Among these, recent studies provided evidence for a bias toward facial expressions of fear and disgust in animal phobics. Such findings may be due to the fact that these expressions could signal the presence of a phobic object in the surroundings. To test this hypothesis and further investigate attentional biases for emotional faces in animal phobics, we conducted an experiment using a gaze-cuing paradigm in which participants’ attention was driven by the task-irrelevant gaze of a centrally presented face. We employed dynamic negative facial expressions of disgust, fear and anger and found an enhanced gaze-cuing effect in snake phobics as compared to controls, irrespective of facial expression. These results provide evidence of a general hypervigilance in animal phobics in the absence of phobic stimuli, and indicate that research on specific phobias should not be limited to symptom provocation paradigms.

Gaze cuing of attention in snake phobic women: the influence of facial expression

SARLO, MICHELA;
2015-01-01

Abstract

Only a few studies investigated whether animal phobics exhibit attentional biases in contexts where no phobic stimuli are present. Among these, recent studies provided evidence for a bias toward facial expressions of fear and disgust in animal phobics. Such findings may be due to the fact that these expressions could signal the presence of a phobic object in the surroundings. To test this hypothesis and further investigate attentional biases for emotional faces in animal phobics, we conducted an experiment using a gaze-cuing paradigm in which participants’ attention was driven by the task-irrelevant gaze of a centrally presented face. We employed dynamic negative facial expressions of disgust, fear and anger and found an enhanced gaze-cuing effect in snake phobics as compared to controls, irrespective of facial expression. These results provide evidence of a general hypervigilance in animal phobics in the absence of phobic stimuli, and indicate that research on specific phobias should not be limited to symptom provocation paradigms.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11576/2673188
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