This meta-analysis of 172 studies (N = 2,263 anxious, N = 1,768 nonanxious) examined the boundary conditions of threat-related attentional biases in anxiety. Overall, the results show that the bias is reliably demonstrated with different experimental paradigms and under a variety of experimental conditions, but that it is only an effect size of d = 0.45. Although processes requiring conscious perception of threat contribute to the bias, a significant bias is also observed with stimuli outside awareness. The bias is of comparable magnitude across different types of anxious populations (individuals with different clinical disorders, high-anxious nonclinical individuals, anxious children and adults) and is not observed in nonanxious individuals. Empirical and clinical implications as well as future directions for research are discussed.
- Attentional bias
- Selective attention