Shifting threat criterion for morphed facial expressions reduces negative affect.

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Publisher: Elsevier Science Publishers
Document Type: Report; Brief article
Length: 301 words

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Keywords Interpretation bias; Signal detection theory; Criterion; Ambiguous; Facial expressions Highlights * Training can shift decision thresholds to judge facial expressions as threatening. * Conservative criterion training resulted in reduced negative affect post-training. * Criterion setting could be a potential target in CBM-I treatment in the future. Abstract It is well-established that anxiety and/or depression are associated with a negative bias when interpreting ambiguous information. This study tested the novel hypothesis that the criterion one sets for judging a stimulus as threatening is a core aspect of this bias. A sample of 174 participants were divided into neutral (n = 87) and threatening (n = 87) training conditions. Participants performed a facial expression detection task, in which criterion was shifted in the liberal (threatening condition) or conservative (neutral condition) direction via differential reward contingencies. Training conditions were successful in inducing large shifts in criterion as intended. There was also a small change in sensitivity in the neutral condition, however, the manipulation is still considered successful given the substantive effect size for change in criterion compared to change in sensitivity. As predicted, conservative criterion-training resulted in significantly lower levels of negative affect post-training. No significant change was found for liberal criterion-training on negative affect. Positive affect also decreased across time regardless of condition. Overall, the reduction in negative affect following conservative criterion-training demonstrates that modifying criterion impacts affect and identifies criterion setting as a potential target in the treatment of mental health disorders with prominent negative affect. Author Affiliation: Research School of Psychology, The Australian National University, Australia * Corresponding author. Research School of Psychology, (Building 39), The Australian National University, Canberra, 2601, Australia. Article History: Received 17 October 2021; Revised 1 January 2022; Accepted 21 February 2022 Byline: Samantha L.B. O'Brien [Samantha.O'Brien@anu.edu.au] (*), Bruce K. Christensen [Bruce.Christensen@anu.edu.au], Stephanie C. Goodhew [Stephanie.Goodhew@anu.edu.au]

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A699667853