Category: Adult Anxiety - Social
Individuals with social anxiety disorder (SAD) tend to perceive their friendships as impaired (Rodebaugh et al., 2014). One construct that may help explain this pattern is reactions to favors performed by friends. In a prior study, Fernandez and Rodebaugh (2011) created the Favor Scale, a measure of reactions to favors. Through psychometric testing in undergraduates, they found that the measure contained three types of reactions to favors: negative reactions (NEG), positive reactions (POS), and a tit-for-tat approach to favors (TFT). In this study, social anxiety was related to primarily NEG and TFT reactions. In the current study, we examined the Favor Scale in a sample of individuals with SAD. We hypothesized that the Favor Scale would retain its original 3-factor fit and that its subscales would show similar relationships to social anxiety-related constructs.
The factor structure and psychometric properties of the Favor Scale were assessed based on responses from 75 individuals diagnosed with SAD. Participants completed a series of measures at an initial visit, and then nominated a friend to come to a second session to complete a series of conversation tasks together. We used the Social Interaction Anxiety Scale (Mattick & Clarke, 1998) to assess trait social anxiety, the Brief Fear of Negative Evaluation Scale (Leary, 1983) to assess fear of negative evaluation, the Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support (Zimet et al., 1988) friend subscale to assess friendship support, and the Quality of Life Inventory (Frisch, 1994) friend subscale to assess friendship quality.
The three-factor structure of the Favor Scale showed adequate fit (CFI=.93, TLI=.90, RMSEA=.07, SRMR=.08). TFT and NEG were strongly positively correlated (r=.64, pp=018), but not with NEG. NEG (r=.37, p=.002) and TFT (r=.30, p=.013) were positively correlated with social interaction anxiety and fear of negative evaluation (NEG: r=.45, pp=.002), whereas POS was not significantly associated with either. Both NEG (r=-.29, p=.014) and TFT (r=-.24 p=.04) were negatively associated with friendship support, but not with friendship quality.
Overall, findings indicated that TFT and NEG were indeed the reactions to favors most related to social anxiety, and that they were also related to friendship support (though not friendship quality). It is possible that for individuals with SAD, reactions to favors affect the support from friends received in general, but not necessarily the quality of friendships once they are established. Clinicians can incorporate knowledge of these reactions in therapy, including assessing and targeting these reactions if negatively affecting the individual’s friendships.
Yeelen Edwards– research assistant, Stanford University, San Anselmo, California
Katya Fernandez– Post Doctoral Fellow, Stanford University
Michelle Lim– Lecturer in Clinical Psychology, Swinburne University of Technology
Thomas Rodebaugh– Associate Professor, Washington University