Eye-tracking to assess anxiety-related attentional biases among a large sample of preadolescent children

Ella L. Oar*, Carly J. Johnco, Allison M. Waters, Jasmine Fardouly, Miriam K. Forbes, Natasha R. Magson, Cele E. Richardson, Ronald M. Rapee

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


A considerable body of research in adults has demonstrated that anxiety disorders are characterised by attentional biases to threat. Findings in children have been inconsistent. The present study examined anxiety-related attention biases using eye tracking methodology in 463 preadolescents between 10 and 12 years of age, of whom 92 met criteria for a DSM-5 anxiety disorder and 371 did not. Preadolescent's gaze was recorded while they viewed adolescent face pairs depicting angry-neutral and happy-neutral expressions with each face pair presented for 5000 ms. No group differences were observed across any eye tracking indices including probability of first fixation direction, latency to first fixation, first fixation duration and dwell time. The sample overall showed faster initial attention towards threat cues, followed by a later broadening of attention away from threat. There is a need to identify the types of threats and the developmental period during which visual attention patterns of anxious and non-anxious youth diverge to inform more developmentally sensitive treatments.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104079
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalBehaviour Research and Therapy
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022


  • anxiety
  • preadolescent
  • attentional bias
  • eye tracking
  • vigilance
  • avoidance


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