Poster F19, Tuesday, March 27, 8:00-10:00 am, Exhibit Hall C
Weakened adaptation for negative compared to positive emotions in individuals high in social anxiety
Erinda Morina1, Sarah C. Izen1, Vivian M. Ciaramitaro1; 1University of Massachusetts Boston
Interpreting emotional expression is a crucial component of social interaction, and may be disrupted in clinical conditions, such as social anxiety (Yoon & Zinbarg, 2007). We used an adaptation paradigm to quantify how individuals high in social anxiety process emotional information in a face. Repeated exposure to a given emotion, positive or negative, can bias the perception of subsequent emotional faces. For example, after exposure to angry faces, an emotionally neutral face tends to be perceived as more positive. Such adaptation effects may be weakened in individuals high in social anxiety, and such weakened adaptation may maintain the negative bias exhibited in socially anxious individuals, who tend to perceive others as judging them negatively, perceive neutral faces as more negative, and remain vigilant to negative information. To quantify adaptation strength, for each participant we calculated their point of subjective equality (PSE), where a face is equally likely to be judged angry/sad or happy, the shift in PSE post-adaptation relative to baseline, and the slope of the psychometric function post-adaptation relative to baseline. We found a significant difference in the magnitude of adaptation with stronger adaptation to positive compared to negative emotions, and a tendency for weaker adaptation to angry compared to sad negative emotions. We also found a significant change in slope, with steeper slopes seen after adapting to positive compared to negative emotions. Thus, socially anxious individuals tend to perceive faces more categorically, an all-or-none rather than a gradual percept, after being adapted to happy compared to negative faces.
Topic Area: EMOTION & SOCIAL: Emotional responding