Anxiety and Attention: The Gap in Research

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Today, cognitive psychologists know an extensive amount of information on our attention – our ability to divide our attention, our ability to selectively choose what we want to attend to and so on. It is agreed on that our cognitive load and resources are two of the influencing factors when studying how attention works. In a normal-functioning mind, studying these two aspects may be enough to understand how our attention operates, but cognitive psychologists must delve much deeper than this while studying the not so normal. Anxiety, for example, affects the mind in ways that go far beyond our cognitive resources and load. According to the Yerkes-Dodson law, a relationship between arousal and performance exists. The relationship can be explained by a seemingly normal curve, where when arousal increases, performance improves until arousal is too high, where performance then begins to decline. Because anxiety can be defined as an increase in arousal, it makes sense that psychologists study trait-anxiety individuals and their ability to perform, specifically their attentional abilities, since their arousal is characterized as abnormally high. Following the Yerkes-Dodson law, many studies have shown an attentional deficit in trait-anxiety individuals, but understanding the deficit has proved challenging. (Thesis statement).
At the heart of the issue lies what defines anxiety. There are endless amounts of ways one could define anxiety, which off the bat poses an issue with research. To name the to main types of anxiety, there is state anxiety and trait anxiety. While state anxiety is a temporary feeling of increased arousal, trait-anxiety is described as a more continuous feeling of this high arousal. Trait-anxiety is chronic and is of...

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