ISSN 2043-8087
Journal of Experimental Psychopathology
 Volume 3, Issue 1, 42-61, 2012
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Friend or Foe? Memory and Expectancy Biases for Faces in Social Anxiety

Tatiana Bielak and David A. Moscovitch
University of Waterloo, Canada

Volume 3, Issue 1, 2012, Pages 42-61

Studies examining memory biases for threat in social anxiety (SA) have yielded mixed results. In the present study, memory and expectancy biases were tested using a novel face recognition paradigm designed to offset methodological challenges that have hampered previous research. Following a social threat induction, undergraduates with high (n = 40) and low (n = 40) levels of SA viewed a series of neutral faces randomly paired with positive or negative social feedback. Recognition memory was tested for previously encountered faces, and for the categorization of each encoded face as having been associated with negative (mean) or positive (nice) interpersonal statements. For new faces, participants were asked whether the person seemed mean or nice. Results provided no evidence of a general memory bias to threat in SA, but suggested that high SA individuals lack a positive expectancy bias toward new social partners. Implications are considered for cognitive-behavioral and interpersonal models of SA.

Table of Contents
  Development and selection of experimental stimuli.
  Social threat induction.
  Valence, arousal, and distress ratings.
  Additional measures.
 Preparation of Data and Analytic Procedure
 Preliminary Analyses
  Descriptive group characteristics.
  Subjective Distress Prior to and Following Social Threat Induction.
  Accuracy of Face Recognition Across Categories.
 Hypothesis 1: Testing for the Presence of a Memory Bias for Threatening Faces
 Hypothesis 2: Testing for the Presence of an Expectancy Bias for New Faces
 Hypothesis 3: Testing the Relation between Self-Portrayal Concerns and Recall Memory for Personally-Relevant Threat
Appendix: Pilot data on the selection of phrase stimuli based on the NSPS

Correspondence to
Tatiana Bielak, Department of Psychology, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada N2L 3G1.

face memory, cognitive biases, memory biases, expectancy, social anxiety

Received 23 May 2011; Revised 13 Oct 2011; Accepted 31 Oct 2011; In Press 5 Feb 2012

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