Ethnic differences in behavioral and physiological indicators of sensitivity to threat

Kelly A. Correa, Vivian Carrillo, Carter J. Funkhouser, Elyse R. Shenberger, Stewart A. Shankman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The clinical presentation of anxiety may differ between Hispanics/Latinx (H/L) and non-H/L, although findings on ethnic differences in self-reported anxiety symptoms have been mixed. Fewer studies have focused on ethnic differences in quick and relatively automatic laboratory-assessed indicators of anxiety symptoms, which have the potential to be more objective indicators than self-report. Therefore, the present study examined ethnic differences in two laboratory-assessed indicators of threat sensitivity (an important transdiagnostic mechanism of anxiety): attentional bias to threat and electromyography startle reactivity to threat. White H/L (n = 117) and White non-H/L (n = 168) adults who were matched on demographics and lifetime psychopathology (including anxiety) completed a dot-probe task to assess attentional bias to threat and the No-Predictable-Unpredictable threat (NPU) task to assess startle reactivity to threat. Results indicated that H/L displayed less Slow OrientationRB (β = −0.27, p = 0.032, R2β∗ = 0.02), and increased Slow DisengagementRB (β = 0.31, p = 0.016, R2β∗ = 0.02) compared to non-H/L. H/L exhibited blunted overall startle compared to non-H/L (β = −0.30, p = 0.014, R2β∗ = 0.02), but groups did not differ in startle reactivity to either predictable or unpredictable threat. In summary, H/L and non-H/L may differ in their experience and presentation of anxiety symptoms and such differences may vary across indicators of sensitivity to threat.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number102508
JournalJournal of Anxiety Disorders
StatePublished - Jan 2022


  • Anxiety
  • Attentional bias
  • EMG startle
  • Hispanic
  • Latino
  • Latinx

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Clinical Psychology


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