Extending the positive Bias in Williams syndrome: the influence of biographical information on attention allocation

Kelsie A. Boulton, Melanie A. Porter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


There is evidence that individuals with Williams syndrome (WS) show an attention bias toward positive social-perceptual (happy) faces. Research has not yet considered whether this attention bias extends beyond social-perceptual stimuli to perceptually neutral stimuli that are paired with positive (trustworthy) biographical information. Fourteen participants with WS (mean age = 21 years, 1 month) learned to associate perceptually neutral faces with trustworthy (positive), neutral, or untrustworthy (negative) biographical information, before completing a dot-probe task where the same biographical faces were presented. The performance of the WS group was compared to two typically developing control groups, individually matched to the WS individuals on chronological age and mental age, respectively. No between-group bias toward untrustworthy characters was observed. The WS group displayed a selective attention bias toward trustworthy characters compared to both control groups (who did not show such a bias). Results support previous findings that indicate WS individuals show a preference for positive social-perceptual stimuli (happy faces) at the neurological, physiological, and attentional levels. The current findings extend this work to include a "top-down" positive bias. The implications of a positive bias that extends beyond social-perceptual stimuli (or "bottom-up" processes) in this syndrome are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)243-256
Number of pages14
JournalDevelopment and Psychopathology
Issue number1
Early online date7 Feb 2019
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2020


  • attention bias
  • social phenotype
  • Williams syndrome


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