Low and high trait anxiety undergraduates were presented with physical-threat, ego-threat, positive, and neutral words. Following an orienting task promoting lexical - but not semantic - processing, unexpected free recall or recognition tests were presented. High anxiety participants showed increased correct recall of both types of threat-related words, but also increased incorrect recall (intrusions) and incorrect recognition (false alarms) of these words. Furthermore, participants high in anxiety had reduced sensitivity (d′) for ego-threat words, and reduced cautiousness (β) for physical-threat words. This tendency to report threat-related information regardless of prior presentation suggests that there is a response bias rather than a memory bias in anxiety. In addition, this bias is likely to be mediated by depression insofar as physical-threat information is concerned, although the bias can be attributed to trait anxiety insofar as ego-threat information is concerned.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)