Elevated baseline anxiety among African Americans in laboratory research settings

José Angel Soto, Nicole A. Roberts, Nnamdi Pole, Robert W. Levenson, Mary H. Burleson, Arlene R. King, Alfiee Breland-Noble

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


We tested the hypothesis that African Americans would show greater anxiety than their European American counterparts when entering laboratory research settings. We examined subjective and physiological anxiety measures obtained both inside and outside the research laboratory from 126 African Americans and 147 European Americans in three separate studies. Consistent with our hypotheses, African Americans reported experiencing significantly more baseline anxiety and showed greater baseline physiological arousal consistent with anxiety than European Americans. These differences were evident when controlling for anxiety observed outside of the research setting as well as baseline differences in overall emotional experience. Our findings highlight the need to consider laboratory-induced anxiety as a potential confound in studies involving African Americans. This may be especially important in race comparison studies in which undetected baseline anxiety could alter the interpretation of subsequent race comparisons.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)105-115
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Psychophysiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Neuroscience
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Physiology


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