Apparently, researchers from the University of Bristol found that high levels of anxiety can affect how you read facial expressions. Published in the Journal of Royal Society Open Science, the study aims to give a clear view on how 'levels of anxiety influence how we see the world,' professor of biological psychology, Marcus Munafò, told The Guardian.
The researchers gathered 12 volunteer staff and students from the University of Bristol. Each participants were given an oro-nasal facemask that pumps normal air or air with high amounts of carbon dioxide to change blood pressure and induce an anxiety attack.
Participants were then showed 15 different facial expressions, morphing from surprised to sad to happy to fear to disgust and to anger. They were then asked to assign the faces to the right emotion. Next, they were showed another 45 pictures with 15 different facial expressions. They were again asked to what each expression was. The researchers replicated this for 40 more participants.
Results showed that volunteers who inhaled the carbon-dioxide air or had an anxiety attack were 8 percent worse at recognizing facial expressions. They also tend to see anger more than happiness if they were in an anxious state.
The researchers also had 1,994 people answer an online study wherein they assigned 6 emotions to both men and women's faces. After that, they were asked to answer a questionnaire that would measure their levels of anxiety generally and while answering. Results of this online study is consistent with the on-hand study.
The findings can shed light on how anxious people see the world and others. This just shows how different we view situations. So perhaps it wouldn't hurt to be extra nice to others and not take everything personally especially those whom we know are fighting a mental disorder (which, in this case is an anxiety disorder).