Much of the research on information processing in social anxiety is based on the assumption that anger (e.g., seeing a frowning face) is the negative emotion most threatening to individuals with social anxiety. However, socially anxious individuals also fear being evaluated as incompetent or disgusting, rather than anger-provoking. While some studies have examined attention and identification processes for disgust expressions in social anxiety, to date no study has examined the fundamental issue of perceived valence of disgust compared to anger. In the current study, we examined ratings of standardized disgust and anger facial expressions by socially anxious individuals, non-anxious controls, and a group of generally anxious and dysphoric participants who were matched to the socially anxious group on general anxiety and depression, but who were not socially anxious. Results showed that the socially anxious group rated disgust faces as more negative than the anger faces, whereas the non-anxious and generally anxious/dysphoric control groups did not rate the two emotions differently. However, in our sample of Caucasian participants, these effects were found only for pictures of Caucasian faces and not for Asian faces. Results are discussed in the context of an ingroup advantage in identification of facial expressions.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology