Two experiments examined the effects of visually
presented threat and nonthreat word lead stimuli on blink
modification among unselected young adults (Experiment
1, N = 35) and participants selected for low and
high trait anxiety (Experiment 2, N = 60). The
blink reflex was elicited by a white noise probe of 105
dB. Lead stimulus intervals of 60, 120, 240, and 2000 ms
were used in both experiments. Prepulse inhibition was
observed at the 240-ms interval and prepulse facilitation
was observed at the 60-ms interval in both experiments.
Also, greater facilitation was found in both experiments
during threat words at the 60-ms interval and greater inhibition
during threat words at the 240-ms interval. Experiment
2 provided some evidence that the greater facilitation
during threat words than during nonthreat words at the
60-ms probe interval may be found in high trait anxious
participants, but not in low trait anxious participants.
The results are discussed in relation to contemporary information
processing theories of anxiety.