The Effect of Anxiety on Verbal and Visual Priming Tasks an Adolescent Victims of Bullying
Bullying is a stressing event that can generate long-term repercussions in victims including anxiety and low academic achievement. Many studies have demonstrated that anxiety can modulate the way in which information is encoded and recovered, especially if it has emotional content. Studies using priming tasks have reported that patients with anxiety disorder tend to remember threatening events better than pleasant or neutral ones. The objective of this study, therefore, was to determine whether the presence of anxiety has an effect on the performance of priming tasks with negative stimuli in victims of bullying. For this purpose, three groups of adolescents: bullying victims with anxiety (BVWA); bullying victims without anxiety (BV); and non-victims (NV), performed verbal and facial priming tasks with emotional (positive and negative valence) and neutral content. The BVWA group showed better performance on verbal priming tasks with negative valence stimuli than on those with positive and neutral valence, but this effect was not observed on the facial priming task, on which BV and NV had better performance with happy faces. Our data show that verbal and facial stimuli with negative valence could have differential effects on adolescent victims of bullying with anxiety. The frightening verbal stimuli generate facilitation in implicit memory likely because, thanks to social networks, words have become a very common way to intimidate others.