Attentional bias for emotional faces in children with generalized anxiety disorder

Allison M. Waters, Karin Mogg, Brendan P. Bradley, Daniel S. Pine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

123 Citations (Scopus)


OBJECTIVE: To examine attentional bias for angry and happy faces in 7- to 12-year-old children with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD; n = 23) and nonanxious controls (n = 25). METHOD: Children completed a visual probe task in which pairs of face stimuli were displayed for 500 milliseconds and were replaced by a visual probe in the spatial location of one of the faces. RESULTS: Severely anxious children with GAD showed an attentional bias toward both angry and happy faces. Children with GAD with a milder level of anxiety and nonanxious controls did not show an attentional bias toward emotional faces. Moreover, within the GAD group, attentional bias for angry faces was associated with increased anxiety severity and the presence of social phobia. CONCLUSIONS: Biased attention toward threat as a function of increased severity in pediatric GAD may reflect differing threat appraisal processes or emotion regulation strategies. Copyright 2008

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)435-442
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Anxiety disorders
  • Attentional bias


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