Although the negative impact of anxiety on task-switching has been documented, little is known about the extent or mechanisms of this impairment primarily because of the complex nature of task-switching and difficulty in probing the occurrence of worries within participants. To address this issue, we employed a stochastic diffusion model analysis along with a novel thought-probe technique in task-switching paradigm. Across 152 participants, we found state anxiety was linked to higher switch costs in nondecision time but not drift rate parameter of diffusion model, which indicates that the locus of task-switching impairment in anxious individuals is pertinent to the efficiency of task-set reconfiguration but not proactive interference processes. Furthermore, we found boundary separation parameter – which quantifies conservative decisional styles – heightened as a function of anxiety, supporting the existence of compensatory strategy in anxious individuals. We also found anxiety increased mixing costs in task-switching paradigm, which extends the implication of anxiety to global sustained control mechanisms in task-switching. Interestingly, we found that impaired performance by anxiety was not attributed to the frequency of worrisome thoughts during task-switching. These findings elucidate several theoretical assumptions on the relationship between anxiety and task-switching.
anxiety, task switching, mind wandering
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Experimental Analysis of Behavior | Social Psychology and Interaction
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The relationship between anxiety, mind wandering and task-switching: A diffusion model analysis. (2017). Dissertations and Theses Collection.
Available at: http://ink.library.smu.edu.sg/etd_coll_all/14
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Available for download on Sunday, September 13, 2020