You’d think that anxious people would be prone to having heightened perception and sensitivity, but new research is saying otherwise. According to a study published in the journal Biological Psychology, anxious people are actually less sensitive than their counterparts.

Researcher Tahl Frenkel, a PhD candidate in Tel Aviv University's School of Psychological Sciences and the Adler Center for Research in Child Developmental and Psychopathology, and her supervisor, Prof. Yair Bar-Haim, were able to come to this conclusion by comparing groups of anxious people and non-anxious people’s reactions to certain stimuli. First, the researchers identified the most anxious participants as well as least anxious participants out of 240 undergraduate students.

While hooked up to an electroencephalography machine, the two groups were then shown images that supposedly induced fear and anxiety. Based on the results, the anxious group was less stimulated than the non-anxious group. According to the study, anxious people have the tendency to underreact to threats simply because they do not readily perceive that they are there. Non-anxious people, on the other hand, are able to detect possible threats, which allow them to react accordingly.

Despite the underreaction, anxious people are almost always taken by surprise. In this way, they seem more sensitive to their environment, but Frenkel explains that this is simply their way of compensating for their lack of sensitivity.

In a way, anxiety almost makes you blind to threats that may be lurking around the corner, which could be the very things you were anxious about in the first place. To avoid being caught unaware, you should try to stay calm. Maintain a cool head, and you'll find that you'll be able to take a swing even when life throws you a curveball.


Since stressing yourself out makes you less sensitive to your surroundings, you might want to work on keeping those worries at bay. Here are articles to help you out:

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(Photo by pOpsicle via sxc.hu)

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