Social anxiety and information processing biases: An integrated theoretical perspective

Virginie Peschard, Pierre Philippot

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Models of anxiety disorders posit that information processing biases towards threat may result from an imbalance between top-down attentional control processes and bottom-up attentional processes, such that anxiety could reduce the influence of the former and increase the influence of the latter. However, researchers have recently pointed to limitations of the top-down/bottom-up terminology and outlined the additional contribution of memory processes to attention guidance. The goal of this paper is to provide bridges between recent findings from cognitive psychology and anxiety disorders research. We first provide an integrative overview of the processes influencing the content of working memory, including the availability of attentional control, and the strengths of task goals, stimulus salience, selection history and long-term memory. We then illustrate the interest of this formulation to the study of information processing biases in anxiety disorders, with a specific focus on social anxiety.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)762-777
Number of pages16
JournalCognition and Emotion
Issue number4
StatePublished - 18 May 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Taylor & Francis.


  • Attention guidance
  • Information processing biases
  • Social anxiety
  • Working memory


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