Behavioral Inhibition (BI) is a temperament type that predicts social withdrawal in childhood and anxiety disorders later in life. However, not all BI children develop anxiety. Attention bias (AB) may enhance the vulnerability for anxiety in BI children, and interfere with their development of effective emotion regulation. In order to fully probe attention patterns, we used traditional measures of reaction time (RT), stationary eye-tracking, and recently emerging mobile eye-tracking measures of attention in a sample of 5- to 7-year-olds characterized as BI (N = 23) or non-BI (N = 58) using parent reports. There were no BI-related differences in RT or stationary eye-tracking indices of AB in a dot-probe task. However, findings in a subsample from whom eye-tracking data were collected during a live social interaction indicated that BI children (N = 12) directed fewer gaze shifts to the stranger than non-BI children (N = 25). Moreover, the frequency of gazes toward the stranger was positively associated with stationary AB only in BI, but not in non-BI, children. Hence, BI was characterized by a consistent pattern of attention across stationary and ambulatory measures. We demonstrate the utility of mobile eye-tracking as an effective tool to extend the assessment of attention and regulation to social interactive contexts.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Psychiatry and Mental health