In the current brief report, we examined threat perception in a group of young children who may be at-risk for anxiety due to extreme temperamental shyness. Results demonstrate specific differences in the processing of social threats: 4- to 7-year-olds in the high-shy group demonstrated a greater bias for social threats (angry faces) than did a comparison group of low-shy children. This pattern did not hold for non-social threats like snakes: Both groups showed an equal bias for the detection of snakes over frogs. The results suggest that children who are tempermentally shy have a heightened sensitivity to social signs of threat early in development. These findings have implications for understanding mechanisms of early threat sensitivity that may predict later socioemotional maladjustment.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Cognitive Neuroscience