Date of Award


Degree Type

Closed Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Erin Tone

Second Advisor

Page Anderson

Third Advisor

Robert Latzman


This study aimed to clarify information processing conditions in which negatively-biased interpretations of faces manifest among individuals varying in self-reported, sub-clinical social anxiety. Existing findings are mixed, with conflicting research variously suggesting the presence (e.g., Bell et al., 2011; Yoon & Zinbarg, 2008) or the absence (e.g., Philippot & Douilliez, 2005; Schofield, Coles, and Gibb, 2011) of a negative interpretation bias for faces. Likely contributing to these equivocal findings is considerable methodological variability across studies that appear to tap two different levels of information processing (automatic and controlled). In this study, experimental conditions designed to elicit automatic versus controlled processing were compared in a single adapted learning paradigm (Yoon & Zinbarg, 2008). Hierarchical regression results did not support hypotheses that social anxiety would predict a negative interpretation bias in either condition. Further analysis of the learning paradigm revealed unexpected patterns of learning that varied according to face emotion.