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Visual attention during virtual social situations depends on social anxiety.
Cyberpsychol Behav. 2008 Aug; 11(4):425-30.CB

Abstract

Theories of anxiety propose that people with phobias involuntarily allocate their attention first toward threatening stimuli and then away from these stimuli. Therefore, the current study assessed attention toward and away of social cues in virtual fear-relevant situations. More specifically, open visual attention was assessed by means of electroocculogram (EOG)-based eye-tracking combined with head-tracking. Participants viewed virtual persons with different facial expressions (happy or angry) in a free-viewing virtual elevator situation. Twenty-six students participated in the study. Actual anxiety was induced to half of them by announcing that they had to give a talk after leaving the virtual elevator. Habitual social anxiety was assessed by questionnaires. Results indicate that participants initially attended more to happy than to angry virtual persons, and participants who expected to give a talk afterwards were especially likely to sustain attending to the happy virtual persons and avoiding the angry persons. Correlation analyses revealed that higher social anxiety was positively related to initial avoidance of happy and angry virtual persons. Thus, higher socially anxious participants seem to initially avoid emotional facial expressions. These results confirm the assumption that faces are especially meaningful for socially anxious people but contradict findings of an open initial hypervigilance toward threatening stimuli. The results indicate that virtual social situations are especially suitable to measure overt attention in an ecologically valid environment.

Authors+Show Affiliations

Department of Psychology, Biological Psychology, Clinical Psychology, and Psychotherapy, University of Würzburg, Würzburg, Germany. muehlberger@psychologie.uni-wuerzburg.deNo affiliation info availableNo affiliation info available

Pub Type(s)

Comparative Study
Journal Article
Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

Language

eng

PubMed ID

18721090

Citation

Mühlberger, Andreas, et al. "Visual Attention During Virtual Social Situations Depends On Social Anxiety." Cyberpsychology & Behavior : the Impact of the Internet, Multimedia and Virtual Reality On Behavior and Society, vol. 11, no. 4, 2008, pp. 425-30.
Mühlberger A, Wieser MJ, Pauli P. Visual attention during virtual social situations depends on social anxiety. Cyberpsychol Behav. 2008;11(4):425-30.
Mühlberger, A., Wieser, M. J., & Pauli, P. (2008). Visual attention during virtual social situations depends on social anxiety. Cyberpsychology & Behavior : the Impact of the Internet, Multimedia and Virtual Reality On Behavior and Society, 11(4), 425-30. https://doi.org/10.1089/cpb.2007.0084
Mühlberger A, Wieser MJ, Pauli P. Visual Attention During Virtual Social Situations Depends On Social Anxiety. Cyberpsychol Behav. 2008;11(4):425-30. PubMed PMID: 18721090.
* Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
TY - JOUR T1 - Visual attention during virtual social situations depends on social anxiety. AU - Mühlberger,Andreas, AU - Wieser,Matthias J, AU - Pauli,Paul, PY - 2008/8/30/pubmed PY - 2008/11/4/medline PY - 2008/8/30/entrez SP - 425 EP - 30 JF - Cyberpsychology & behavior : the impact of the Internet, multimedia and virtual reality on behavior and society JO - Cyberpsychol Behav VL - 11 IS - 4 N2 - Theories of anxiety propose that people with phobias involuntarily allocate their attention first toward threatening stimuli and then away from these stimuli. Therefore, the current study assessed attention toward and away of social cues in virtual fear-relevant situations. More specifically, open visual attention was assessed by means of electroocculogram (EOG)-based eye-tracking combined with head-tracking. Participants viewed virtual persons with different facial expressions (happy or angry) in a free-viewing virtual elevator situation. Twenty-six students participated in the study. Actual anxiety was induced to half of them by announcing that they had to give a talk after leaving the virtual elevator. Habitual social anxiety was assessed by questionnaires. Results indicate that participants initially attended more to happy than to angry virtual persons, and participants who expected to give a talk afterwards were especially likely to sustain attending to the happy virtual persons and avoiding the angry persons. Correlation analyses revealed that higher social anxiety was positively related to initial avoidance of happy and angry virtual persons. Thus, higher socially anxious participants seem to initially avoid emotional facial expressions. These results confirm the assumption that faces are especially meaningful for socially anxious people but contradict findings of an open initial hypervigilance toward threatening stimuli. The results indicate that virtual social situations are especially suitable to measure overt attention in an ecologically valid environment. SN - 1557-8364 UR - https://www.unboundmedicine.com/medline/citation/18721090/Visual_attention_during_virtual_social_situations_depends_on_social_anxiety_ L2 - https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/10.1089/cpb.2007.0084?url_ver=Z39.88-2003&rfr_id=ori:rid:crossref.org&rfr_dat=cr_pub=pubmed DB - PRIME DP - Unbound Medicine ER -