ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2013, Vol. 21 ›› Issue (11): 1927-1938.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2013.01927

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The Facial Expression Processing in Social Anxiety Disorder

LIU Hongyan;HU Zhiguo   

  1. (1 Psychology Department, Zhejiang Sci-Tech University, Hangzhou 310018, China) (2 Center for Cognition and Brain Disorders, Hangzhou Normal University, Hangzhou 310015, China) (3 Zhejiang Key Laboratory for Research in Assessment of Cognitive Impairments, Hangzhou 310015, China)
  • Received:2013-05-09 Online:2013-11-15 Published:2013-11-15
  • Contact: HU Zhiguo


Social anxiety disorder (SAD) patients usually show deficits in facial expression processing. The present review first summarizes the general characteristics of facial processing deficits in SAD patients. We then discuss studies that probed the processing deficiency of positive facial expressions and the bias for negative facial expressions in SAD patients. Because threatening facial expression might be an important stressor for social anxiety, studies addressing the bias for threat-related facial expressions in SAD patients are particularly analyzed. Inconsistent findings in the literature, as identified in the present review, are probably caused by the variation of methodological features across studies, such as subject heterogeneity, inconformity of facial stimuli and different choices of experimental tasks and parameters. For future studies, researchers are encouraged to control trait anxiety and state anxiety and to conduct experiments in simulated (thus more ecologically valid) social situations.

Key words: social anxiety, facial expression, emotion, processing bias, threat