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The impact of social anxiety on emotional processing : an ERP study

Stewart, LF 2014 , 'The impact of social anxiety on emotional processing : an ERP study', Coursework Master thesis, University of Tasmania.

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The way individuals with social anxiety process emotional expressions, particularly social threatening expressions, has been identified as important in the development and maintenance of social anxiety. Two modeis have been proposed to explain social anxiety; the cognitive model and the vigilance-avoidance model. The current study investigated these models by examining emotional processing using Event Related Potential (ERPs) correlates. High trait socially anxious females (HSA: n=l5) and low trait socially anxious females (LSA: n=15) were exposed to a range of emotional expressions (angry, disgusted, happy and neutral) in a passive viewing task whilst their ERP responses were recorded. Results indicated that HSA revealed greater automatic attention, or hypervigilance, to all facial expressions, as indexed by greater NI amplitude compared to the LSA group. HSA had greater attentional and structural encoding of happy faces, as indexed by N2 amplitude, compared to LSA. They also had greater elaborative processing of all facial expressions, indexed by LPP amplitude. These results support Clark and Wells' (1995) cognitive model that proposes HSA engage in further cognitive processing of social stimuli and does not
confirm predictions of the vigilance-avoidance model.

Item Type: Thesis - Coursework Master
Authors/Creators:Stewart, LF
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Copyright 2014 the author

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