Infant negative affectivity and patterns of affect-biased attention

Danielle A. Swales, Julie Markant, Ella Marie P. Hennessey, Deborah H. Glueck, Benjamin L. Hankin, Elysia Poggi Davis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Biased attention toward affective cues often cooccurs with the emergence and maintenance of internalizing disorders. However, few studies have assessed whether affect-biased attention in infancy relates to early indicators of psychopathological risk, such as negative affectivity. The current study evaluates whether negative affectivity relates to affect-biased attention in 6-month-old infants. Affect-biased attention was assessed via a free-viewing eye-tracking task in which infants were presented with a series of face pairs (comprised of a happy, angry, or sad face and a neutral face). Attention was quantified with metrics of both attention orienting and attention holding. Overall, infants showed no differences in attention orienting (i.e., speed of looking) or attention holding (i.e., duration of looking) toward emotional faces in comparison to the neutral face pairs. Negative affectivity, assessed via parent report, did not relate to attention orienting but was associated with biased attention toward positive, happy faces and away from threat-cueing, angry faces in comparison to the neutral faces they were paired with. These findings suggest that negative affectivity is associated with differences in attention holding, but not initial orienting toward emotional faces; biases which have important implications for the trajectory of socioemotional development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere22380
JournalDevelopmental psychobiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 2023


  • affect-biased attention
  • attention holding
  • attention orienting
  • eye tracking
  • infancy
  • negative affectivity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Developmental Biology


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