Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics

, Volume 81, Issue 3, pp 694–706 | Cite as

How state anxiety and attentional bias interact with each other: The moderating effect of cognitive appraisal

  • Jingyuan Liu
  • Kehan Shen
  • Hong LiEmail author


In the present study, we conducted four experiments to explore how state anxiety influences attentional bias, and vice versa, as well as the moderating effect of cognitive appraisal in this relationship. Experiment 1 focused on whether induced state anxiety could lead to attentional bias. Experiment 2 explored the influence of attentional bias on state anxiety under stressful conditions. Experiments 3 and 4 investigated the moderating effect of cognitive appraisal on the interaction between state anxiety and attentional bias. Our main findings were that state anxiety directly leads to attentional bias, whereas negative attentional bias increases state anxiety under stressful conditions. Moreover, cognitive appraisal moderates the influence of attentional bias on state anxiety, but not the reverse influence. The implications of our study are that it provides empirical evidence for the interaction between state anxiety and attentional bias, and also that it offers insight into the different moderating effects of cognitive appraisal on the relationship.


State anxiety Attentional bias Cognitive appraisal Interaction Moderating effect 


Author note

We are grateful to Lisha Fu, Mo Luan, and Yin Shi for helpful feedback, and Aiping Shao, Lisha Fu, and Junjie Yu for assistance with data collection. The study was funded by the Shenzhen Science and Technology Plan Foundation [Grant No. JCYJ20170817161546744]. J.L., K.S., and H.L. declare that they have no conflicts of interest. All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. No animal studies were carried out by the authors of this article, and informed consent was obtained from all participants included in the study. The datasets generated during and/or analyzed during the present study are available from the Mendeley Data [DOI:10.17632/rfs3ngkyky.1].

Supplementary material

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ESM 1 (DOCX 21 kb)


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Copyright information

© The Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyTsinghua UniversityBeijingChina
  2. 2.Department of Educational PsychologyUniversity of KansasLawrenceUSA

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