Category: Adult Anxiety - Social
The past decade has seen a flourishing in research on self-criticism. Specifically, self-criticism has been identified as a transdiagnostic phenomenon that is involved in the development and maintenance of a number of psychological disorders. In response, increasing self-compassion has been identified as a possible means to treat such disorders. Thus far, there is a paucity of research examining the relationship of these variables with respect to social anxiety. We hypothesized two causal models whereby the relationship between self-criticism/self-kindness and social anxiety was mediated by negative self-beliefs in the form of perceived inferiority and self-esteem. Self-criticism was measured using the Forms of Self-criticizing/Attacking and Self-Reassuring Scale; self-kindness with the Self Compassion Scale, social anxiety with the Social Phobia and Social Interaction Anxiety scales, perceived inferiority with the Social Comparison Scale, and self-esteem with the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale. We tested these models longitudinally in a general community sample aged 18-71 years old (N=506) using online measures over 3 time points across a 7-month period. At T1, 59% of the sample were above cut-off scores for social anxiety disorder. There was some attrition: 69% of participants completed Time 2 on average 101.29 (SD = 15.28) days after Time 1, and 56% of participants completed Time 3 on average 119.25 (SD = 8.89) days after Time 2. Using random intercept cross-lagged structural equation modelling controlling for the stable trait-like components of the variables, we found that self-criticism significantly predicted future increases in negative self-beliefs in the form of perceived inferiority (β = .27) but without an effect of the latter variable on social anxiety. Furthermore, self-kindness did not predict future negative self-beliefs. Analyses did reveal some expected relationships (e.g., negative self-beliefs predicting future fear of negative evaluation (β = .10), self-kindness predicting future self-criticism (β = -.18), providing partial support for some aspects of the proposed models. We discuss the implications of the findings in terms of proposed interventions targeting self-criticism and promoting self-kindness in the context of fears of negative evaluation.
Jeremy Stevenson– PhD Candidate (Clinical Psychology), Flinders University
Junwen Chen– Flinders University
Reg Nixon– Flinders University
Julie Mattiske– Flinders University
Kate Fairweather Schmidt– Flinders University
Pawel Skuza– Flinders University