State anxiety and information processing: A 7.5% carbon dioxide challenge study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • Kayleigh E. Easey
  • Christopher Kent
  • Coral Crouch
  • Sam Jackson
  • Marcus R. Munafò

Colleges, School and Institutes


We used the 7.5% carbon dioxide model of anxiety induction to investigate the effects of state anxiety on simple information processing. In both high- and low-anxious states, participants (n = 36) completed an auditory–visual matching task and a visual binary categorization task. The stimuli were either degraded or clear, so as to investigate whether the effects of anxiety are greater when signal clarity is compromised. Accuracy in the matching task was lower during CO2 inhalation and for degraded stimuli. In the categorization task, response times and indecision (measured using mouse trajectories) were greater during CO2 inhalation and for degraded stimuli. For most measures, we found no evidence of Gas × Clarity interactions. These data indicate that state anxiety negatively impacts simple information processing and do not support claims that anxiety may benefit performance in low-cognitively-demanding tasks. These findings have important implications for understanding the impact of state anxiety in real-world situations.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)732-738
JournalPsychonomic Bulletin & Review
Issue number2
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1 Feb 2018


  • Anxiety, Visual Perception, Auditory Perception, Human Factors