Trait anxiety, cognitive control, and visual affect

du Rocher, A. R.. 2018. Trait anxiety, cognitive control, and visual affect. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

High anxiety may relate to the enhanced processing of threat-related stimuli, enhanced cognitive distraction, and/or altered conflict resolution. It was the purpose of this thesis to carry out a series of behavioural experiments designed to tap into these neuro-cognitive functions. Facial stimuli were used in computerised reaction time experiments. Personality traits were assessed using psychometric measures. The primary aim of this thesis was to determine how trait anxiety (and social anxiety) relates to the recognition of emotional facial expressions, how trait anxiety relates to distraction by other emotional faces (or emotional words) when identifying emotional facial expressions, how trait anxiety relates to differences in how emotional conflict resolution is achieved, and to determine how trait anxiety relates to other personality traits. Moreover this work aimed to develop a novel emotional face conflict resolution paradigm that is grounded in neuroscientific theory.

Results showed that high trait and social anxiety are (differentially) related to the enhanced processing of threat-related faces, but provided no evidence that trait anxiety is related to distraction caused by peripheral emotional faces (threat-related or otherwise). However, we found a very specific distracting effect of happy words that was related to trait anxiety. We found that trait anxiety was somewhat related to conflict resolution but further work is required before this relationship can be properly understood. These results are discussed in detail, in relation to established theories of anxiety.

My original contribution to knowledge is a detailed analysis of how sub-clinical levels of anxiety relate to emotional face discrimination, emotional distraction (when emotional face discrimination is required), and emotional conflict resolution (when emotional face discrimination is required). My original contribution to knowledge is also a detailed examination of how sub-clinical anxiety relates to other personality constructs, and the development of a novel but scientifically grounded emotional face flanker task.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):

https://doi.org/10.25602/GOLD.00023279

Keywords:

Trait anxiety, affect, cognitive control, emotional faces

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Psychology

Date:

31 March 2018

Item ID:

23279

Date Deposited:

01 May 2018 11:30

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 16:45

URI:

http://research.gold.ac.uk/id/eprint/23279

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