The Role of State and Trait Anxiety in the Processing of Facial Expressions of Emotion

Maddy L Dyer*, Angela S Attwood, Ian S Penton-Voak, Marcus R Munafo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
59 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

State anxiety appears to influence facial emotion processing (Attwood et al., 2017). We aimed to (a) replicate these findings, and (b) investigate the role of trait anxiety, in an experiment with healthy UK participants (N = 48, 50% male, 50% high trait anxiety). High and low state anxiety were induced via inhalations of 7.5% carbon dioxide enriched air and medical air, respectively. High state anxiety reduced global emotion recognition accuracy (p = .01, ηp2 = .14), but it did not affect interpretation bias towards perceiving anger in ambiguous angry–happy facial morphs (p = .18, ηp2 = .04). We found no clear evidence of a relationship between trait anxiety and global emotion recognition accuracy (p = .60, ηp2 = .01) or interpretation bias towards perceiving anger (p = .83, ηp2 = .001). However, there was greater interpretation bias towards perceiving anger (i.e., away from happiness) during heightened state anxiety, among individuals with high trait anxiety (p = .03, dz = 0.33). State anxiety appears to impair emotion recognition accuracy, and among individuals with high trait anxiety, it appears to increase biases towards perceiving anger (away from happiness). Trait anxiety alone does not appear to be associated with facial emotion processing.
Original languageEnglish
Article number210056
Number of pages16
JournalRoyal Society Open Science
Volume9
Issue number1
Early online date5 Jan 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
All authors gave final approval for publication and agreed to be held accountable for the work performed therein. Competing interests. M.R.M. and I.S.P.-V. are co-directors of Jericoe Ltd, which produces software for the assessment and modification of emotion recognition. We have no other potential competing interests. Funding. This work was supported by the Medical Research Council Integrative Epidemiology Unit (MRC IEU) at the University of Bristol (grant no. MC_UU_12013/6). Acknowledgements. We are grateful to the people who participated in this study.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Authors.

Keywords

  • state anxiety
  • trait anxiety
  • emotion
  • face
  • 7.5% carbon dioxide
  • bias

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