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Attentional biases with regard to emotional facial expressions are associated with social anxiety in adults. We investigated whether similar relations exist in children. Seventy-nine 8- to 11-year-olds completed a probe detection task. On a given trial, 1 of 3 pairs of faces was presented: negative-neutral, negative-positive, and positive-neutral. The strongest association was between social anxiety symptoms and avoidance of negative faces from negative-neutral trials (r = - .32), with all other correlations less than half that size. This association was largely due to avoidance of angry and fearful expressions. These results provide preliminary evidence that anxiety is associated with attentional biases in children as in adults.

Original publication




Journal article


J Clin Child Adolesc Psychol

Publication Date





431 - 439


Anger, Anxiety Disorders, Attention, Avoidance Learning, Child, Child Behavior, Facial Expression, Fear, Female, Humans, London, Male, Pattern Recognition, Visual, Set (Psychology), Social Behavior, Task Performance and Analysis, Time Factors