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Anxiety Selectively Increases Information-Seeking in Response to Large Changes

Vellani, Valentina and Charpentier, Caroline and Cogliati Dezza, Irene and Globig, Laura K. and Gädeke, Maria and Sharot, Tali (2022) Anxiety Selectively Increases Information-Seeking in Response to Large Changes. Biological Psychiatry, 91 (9). S133-S134. ISSN 0006-3223. doi:10.1016/j.biopsych.2022.02.349.

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Background: Seeking information when anxious may help reduce the aversive feeling of uncertainty and guide decision-making. If information is negative or confusing, however, this may further increase anxiety. Information gathered under anxiety can thus be beneficial and/or damaging. Here, we examine whether anxiety generally increases information-seeking, or rather selectively alters the type of information sought depending on the situation. Methods: In two lab studies, participants completed an information-seeking task designed to dissociate general from selective information-seeking tendencies, while anxiety was assessed through self-reported trait anxiety (Study a, N=42) or manipulated using a variation of the Trier Social Stress Test (Study b, N=48). Results: Both trait anxiety and induced anxiety led to a selective increase in information-seeking. In particular, anxiety did not enhance the general tendency to seek information, nor did it alter the valence of the information gathered. Rather, anxiety increased information-seeking specifically in response to large changes in the environment (trait anxiety: p=0.03, induced anxiety: p=0.02). This was true even though the cause of the anxiety was unrelated to the information sought. Conclusions: As anxious individuals have difficulty in learning under changing environments, greater information-seeking in such environments may be an adaptive compensatory mechanism.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
Vellani, Valentina0000-0001-7191-5257
Charpentier, Caroline0000-0002-7283-0738
Cogliati Dezza, Irene0000-0002-1212-4751
Globig, Laura K.0000-0002-0612-0594
Sharot, Tali0000-0002-8384-6292
Additional Information:© 2022 Published by Elsevier Inc. Available online 28 April 2022, Version of Record 28 April 2022. Supported By: Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellow, FWO postdoctoral fellowship, Sir Henry Postdoctoral Fellowship.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Fonds Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (FWO)UNSPECIFIED
Sir Henry Wellcome FellowshipUNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:Anxiety, Information Seeking, Decision Making
Issue or Number:9
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20220719-154312300
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Valentina Vellani, Caroline Charpentier, Irene Cogliati Dezza, Laura K. Globig, Maria Gädeke, Tali Sharot, P115. Anxiety Selectively Increases Information-Seeking in Response to Large Changes, Biological Psychiatry, Volume 91, Issue 9, Supplement, 2022, Pages S133-S134, ISSN 0006-3223,
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:115677
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:20 Jul 2022 16:49
Last Modified:20 Jul 2022 16:49

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