2007 Volume 4 Issue 2 Pages 123-131
We investigated whether selective attention towards threat-related stimuli in social anxiety was associated with the difficulty of disengagement from the stimuli. Participants were divided into two groups: high social anxiety and low social anxiety. They kept their eyes focused on a center prime stimulus (social threat, neutral word, or symbol), which was presented for either 100 ms or 800 ms. The target stimulus was then presented to either the left or the right of the prime stimuli, and the participants judged the location of the target stimulus. The results indicate that, in contrast to low socially anxious students, high socially anxious students took longer to make decisions for socially-threatening words presented for 800 ms, and that their response latencies were also slower for socially-threatening words than for neutral words and symbol. However, no significant differences were observed in reaction times between the high and low socially anxious students when the prime stimuli were presented for 100 ms. These findings suggest that individuals with high social anxiety have difficulty in disengaging their visual attention from socially-threatening words when presented for longer periods.