Category: Adult Anxiety - Social
Background:Prior research has shown that individuals with higher levels of social anxiety pay less attention to emotions and have poorer emotional clarity, characterized by difficulty identifying and distinguishing between emotions. The current study examines the reliability and convergent validity of a previously developed measure of emotional clarity and attention to emotions (Palmieri, Boden, & Berenbaum, 2009) in a sample of individuals diagnosed with Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD).
Methods: Participants were 107 individuals diagnosed with SAD in the context of a randomized controlled trial. At baseline, participants completed the 13-item emotional clarity scale and the 10-item attention to emotions scale, which are composed of questions derived from the Trait Meta-Mood Scale and the Toronto Alexithymia Scale-20. Self-report measures used to assess convergent validity included the Social Interaction Anxiety Scale (SIAS), the Emotion Regulation Questionnaire (ERQ) to measure reappraisal frequency, reappraisal self-efficacy, and suppression frequency, and the Experiences Questionnaire (EQ) to measure decentering.
Results: The emotional clarity scale was normally distributed and demonstrated excellent internal consistency (a=.92). It was significantly positively associated with the attention to emotions scale (r=.37, p < .001), ERQ Reappraisal frequency (r=.20, p=.04), ERQ reappraisal self-efficacy (r=.21, p=.03), and EQ decentering (r=.26, p=.01). Emotional clarity was negatively associated with ERQ suppression frequency (r=-.33, p=.001). The attention to emotions scale was normally distributed and had acceptable internal consistency (a= .77). The measure was significantly negatively associated with the SIAS (r=-.19, p=.045) and ERQ suppression frequency (r=-.37, p < .001).
Conclusion: These findings provide some support for the use of the 13-item and 10-item scales to assess emotional clarity and attention to emotions in a sample of individuals with SAD. The scales demonstrated adequate to excellent internal consistency. The convergent validity of the emotional clarity scale was demonstrated through correlations with higher reappraisal frequency and self-efficacy, greater decentering, and less frequent suppression of emotions. The attention to emotions scale showed some evidence of convergent validity through associations with less social anxiety and less frequent suppression. Further research should determine whether the scales have discriminant validity.