Social anxiety and evaluation of social crowds: explicit and implicit measures.Behav Res Ther. 2008 Aug; 46(8):932-43.BR
To investigate whether social anxiety disorder is indeed characterized by a biased negative evaluation of facial expressions, 25 highly socially anxious (SA) participants and 30 non-anxious controls (NACs) were asked to respond to different ratios of neutral-angry or happy-angry face combinations (crowds). In an indirect Approach-Avoidance Task (AAT), participants used a joystick to pull the crowds towards themselves (approach) or push them away (avoidance). SAs showed faster avoidance of neutral-angry crowds when the number of angry faces in the crowd increased. The happy-angry crowds were generally avoided, independent of the ratio of the two emotions. NACs did not show any specific response tendency. When directly rating the friendliness of the crowds, the two groups did not differ.