Memory bias in generalized social phobia: remembering negative emotional expressions

J Anxiety Disord. 2000 Sep-Oct;14(5):501-19. doi: 10.1016/s0887-6185(00)00036-0.


In two experiments, the authors examined memory for facial emotional expressions in patients with generalized social phobia (GSP) and in nonanxious control (NAC) participants. Three main questions were addressed. First, do patients with GSP differ from NAC participants in their overall memory for facial expressions? Second, do patients with GSP exhibit a memory bias for negative versus nonnegative expressions? Third, if such a bias exists, is it specific to angry expressions? The results of both experiments indicated that patients with GSP have better memory for all facial expressions than do NAC participants. Results of experiment 2 suggest that patients with GSP exhibit enhanced recognition for negative compared with nonnegative expressions; in contrast, NAC participants did not exhibit such enhancement. Results concerning specificity were equivocal. The importance of examining cognitive biases in patients with GSP via the use of facial expression is discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affect*
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Facial Expression*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory*
  • Mental Recall
  • Phobic Disorders / psychology*
  • Recognition, Psychology