COVID-19, attentional bias, and trait anxiety

Click here for the article published by Frontiers in Psychiatry.

Anxious individuals selectively attend to threatening information, but it remains unclear whether attentional bias can be generalized to traumatic events, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Previous studies suggested that specific threats related to personal experiences can elicit more substantial attentional bias than general threats. The current study investigated the relationship between content-specific attentional bias and trait anxiety during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The study found participants with high trait anxiety exhibited attentional bias toward COVID-19-related stimuli and attentional bias away from general threat-related stimuli. In contrast, participants with low trait anxiety showed attentional bias away from both types of stimuli. Results suggest that individuals with high trait anxiety show a content-specific attentional bias to COVID-19-related information during the COVID-19 pandemic. Apart from the innate attentional bias toward biological threats, individuals with high trait anxiety may also learn from trauma and develop trauma-specific attentional bias.

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