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Socially Anxious Tendencies Affect Autonomic Responses during Eye Gaze Perception

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DOI: 10.4236/psych.2015.613160    3,333 Downloads   3,957 Views   Citations

ABSTRACT

Social anxiety disorder is a common psychiatric disorder. The gaze of others is known to frequently induce social anxiety. We conducted a gaze detection experiment to examine the effects of social anxiety on autonomic response, namely heart rate (HR) response. We used the maximum HR deceleration between 0 s and 3 s after stimulus onset as an indicator of emotional stress. Participants were assigned to a high social anxiety (HSA) or low social anxiety (LSA) group on the basis of cut-off scores indicative of clinical levels of stress as per the Japanese version of the Liebowitz Social Anxiety Scale (LSAS-J). Our results showed that HR deceleration was greater for the HSA compared with the LSA group. Moreover, the higher the LSAS-J score was, the greater the increase was in HR deceleration (correlation coefficient rs = 0.52, p < 0.01). Our results suggest that the eye gaze of others can be processed as a threat in individuals with a high tendency towards social anxiety.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Cite this paper

Tsuji, Y. and Shimada, S. (2015) Socially Anxious Tendencies Affect Autonomic Responses during Eye Gaze Perception. Psychology, 6, 1649-1652. doi: 10.4236/psych.2015.613160.

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