By: Bobby Azarian
Published: BBC, 29 September 2016, http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20160928-how-anxiety-warps-your-perception
Level of Difficulty: ***
BEFORE YOU READ
Watch the following videos and make a few notes:
· A Virus Called Fear and why it distorts our perceptions. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O2dZbBK5tkM
· Understanding Cognitive Distortions https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SAHL_nnHoK8
1. Start reading the text and decide where the introduction ends. What is the function of the last sentence of the introduction?
2. Look back at the introduction of the text and answer the following questions:
a. What unexpected point is made in the text concerning anxiety? The fact that…
b. What does “This” refer to in the phrase “This can have profound consequences? The fact that…
3. The development of the text is divided into various sections. Start reading the first section, decide how many paragraphs it includes and give it a subtitle. Select from the following short list: Notoriety is the Key, Place it Center Stage, Publicity Matters, Shine a light on it
4. Now look back at this section and answer the following questions:
a. We understand from the first paragraph of this section that there are restrictions /limits / borders / deadlines to the amount of data we can focus on at any given time.
b. What conclusion can be drawn from the paragraph beginning “We can appreciate…”?
c. What does “This” refer to in the sentence”This makes reality comprehensible”?
d. Shifts in the spotlight of our attention take place consciously/ voluntarily/ automatically and are very important because…………………………..
5. Continue reading and decide where the next section starts and where it ends. Then give it a subtitle. Select from the list that follows: Shift your Attention Quick /The Journey on the Subway / The Spotlight on Overdrive.
6. Look back at the section you have just read and answer the following questions:
a. We understand from the paragraph beginning “While” that anxiety causes our attention to become negatively inclined / lop-sided / irrational / threatening (Select the answer that doesn’t fit )
b. Read the example of the ride on the subway once again. Frequent repetition of similar experiences skews perception because it leads to ……………………………………….
c. We understand from the 2009 study that the negative bias towards Middle Eastern people is probably involuntary / unwitting / conscious / compulsory / knee jerk. (Select as many as fit)
d. We can surmise from the text that Trump supporters in the 2016 presidential election had probably focused on……………………………….
e. Donald Trump, The Republican presidential candidate in the 2016 election campaign painted a bleak picture of USA because ………………………..(Use your own words)
7. Read on until the end of the text and give this last section a title as well. Select from the list: Recent Research /Light at the End of the Tunnel / Attention Bias Modification Training/ Changing Opinions.
8. Look at the section you have just read and answer the following questions:
a. What is the purpose of ABMT?
b. The success rates of ABTM could be increased by using ……………………
9. ABTM could contribute to world peace by stopping anxiety from…..
Watch the following videos and write an essay in which you discuss the effects of anxiety:
· Your brain on stress and anxiety https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gmwiJ6ghLIM
· Rethinking anxiety: learning to face fear https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jryCoo0BrRk
· How to identify and challenge cognitive distortions https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K30ZyqbMV3U
HOW ANXIETY WARPS OUR ATTENTION KEY AND TEACHERS’ NOTES
This is a well organized text which focuses on a particular problem which it discusses and provides solutions for. Anxiety is a widespread problem and it is interesting to see how it skews our understanding of the world and our perceptions. Hopefully, the text will lead the students to rethink some of their own prejudices
1. The introduction ends with the words “in which it can be influenced” This last sentence is the thesis statement
2. The fact that it changes what we focus our attention on throughout the day.
The fact that anxiety alters what we are conscious of and in turn the way we experience reality
3. Place it Center Stage; Notoriety means famous for a negative reason, publicity means the media is involved, shining a light on something indicates the you actively select what to focus on, which is not the case as far as our brains are involved
4. Limits. The word ‘restrictions’ implies outside interference, the word ‘borders’ is a political or geographical term and the word ‘deadlines’ refers to the time when a project must be completed.
We have a localized spotlight of attention
Focusing only on what is important while ignoring the irrelevant
Automatically, they alert us of something in the environment that may be crucial to survival
5. It begins “Thanks to evolution” and ends with the sentence beginning “Essentially,…” The Spotlight on Overdrive. The title ‘Shift your Attention Quick’ implies that the person is shifting his attention consciously, and ‘The Train Journey’ implies that the whole section is about a train journey
6. Threatening; an overly threat conscious appraisal of the environment; involuntary, unwitting knee jerk; Aversive images; possible answer: he wanted to maintain the electorate’s levels of anxiety so they would vote for him.
7. Light at the End of the Tunnel. ABMT is just one solution mentioned in the text; Recent Research is far too vague; Changing Opinions is also vague plus one app didn’t work so this title would be misleading. The section starts with the words ‘At its worst’ and ends before the last paragraph
8. To train the brain to habitually focus away from threat and negative information towards positive information; more dynamic tasks that use highly realistic stimuli OR A more lifelike environment
9. Distorting reality, instilling fear and altering belief systems