Category: Adult Anxiety - Social
Theoretical models of social anxiety hypothesize the maintenance of the disorder to include cognitive and behavioral mechanisms. Recently, mediation models have been studied to understand the interaction between the maintaining factors. The relationship between social anxiety and both social cost and safety behavior use has been found to be mediated by perceived control over one’s anxiety. Thus, anxiety control appears to be a significant mediator between maintaining mechanisms and social anxiety. However, perceived control has not been examined between social cost and safety behavior use, solely between each of the factors with social anxiety. Another relationship that has not yet been examined is between social cost and post-event processing. The theoretical models have linked social cost and post-event processing through safety behavior use, however the potential mediator of safety behavior use has not been examined for the relationship between social cost and post-event processing.
The current study examined safety behavior use during an impromptu speech situation, and looked at the subsequent effect on post-event processing of the event. The participants were given baseline questionnaires including the SCQ, measuring dysfunctional social cognitions and social cost, and the ACQR, measuring perceived anxiety control. After that, they were told to give a 3 minute speech in front of a research assistant “videoing” the speech. They were then given a few more questionnaires, including the EPEPQ, measuring post-event processing, and then were excused. One week later, participants returned and were given questionnaires for post-event processing and state anxiety.
The results found a significant full mediation model explaining the relationship between dysfunctional cognitions about social cost and post-event processing with safety behavior use as the mediator. Further, the relationship between social cost and safety behavior use was partially mediated by perceived control over one’s anxiety. Thus, the model shows that the greater dysfunctional cognitions about social cost one has, the less perceived control one has over their anxiety, the more safety behaviors one will use in a speech situation and subsequently, the greater levels of reported post-event processing one will endorse.
The study provides a novel model to explain the relationship between two significant maintaining mechanisms in social anxiety, social cost and post-event processing, with safety behavior use. Perceived control has been implicated as an important mediator across models in the literature, and it is again explaining the relationship between social cost and safety behavior use in this study. Further, the mediation model from this study supports the theoretical social anxiety models in which social cost and dysfunctional social cognitions are associated with safety behavior use, which then is associated with post-event processing. This theoretical link has been previously made between the factors, but it has not been examined in an experimental study. Implications from the findings include support for the addition of perceived control to the theoretical models of social anxiety.