Category: Adult Anxiety - Social
In anticipation of a future social interaction, socially anxious individuals (SAIs) may imagine themselves appearing stupid or foolish and exaggerate the probability and costs of conveying these undesirable social images both on oneself (e.g., “I will feel stupid”) and on others impressions of oneself (e.g., “others will think I’m stupid”; Clark & Wells, 1995). However, there is a paucity of research examining the latter bias; moreover, research regarding SAIs estimates of the probability and costs of conveying a positive impression (e.g., “I will feel smart”) has typically been neglected. Thus, the purpose of the current study was to develop a more comprehensive model of SAIs estimates of probability and costs. Because previous research has neglected to examine both self and other, positive and negative social judgment biases, a questionnaire was created for the purposes of the present study. We tested a structural equation model with positive and negative, self- and other-related judgmental biases representing four distinct, latent constructs related to trait social anxiety indirectly through fears of positive (FPE) and negative evaluation (FNE), consistent with the evolutionary model of social anxiety (Weeks, Rodebaugh, Heimberg, Norton, & Jakatdar, 2009; Gilbert, 2001). Four hundred and seventy-four college students (307 males and 167 females) completed the Depression Anxiety and Stress Scale (DASS-21; Lovibond & Lovibond, 1995), the Social Interaction Anxiety Scale—Straightforward Score (SIAS-S; Mattick & Clarke, 1998), the Brief Fear of Negative Evaluation Scale—Straightforward Score (BFNE; Leary, 1983), the Fear of Positive Evaluation Scale (FPES; Weeks, Heimberg, & Rodebaugh, 2008) and the Social Impact Bias Scales(SIBS; Johns & Lewin, unpublished). Results partially supported study hypotheses. After statistically controlling for depression, the tested model provided a good fit to the data, χ2(94) = 151.78, CFI = .99, TLI = .99, RMSEA = .04. All social appraisals with the exception of other-negative appraisals were indirectly related to social anxiety through fears of positive and negative evaluation. Contrary to expectations, other-positive appraisals were negatively related to fear of negative evaluation and other-negative appraisals were related to FNE, but not FPE, providing partial discriminant validity of the novel questionnaire used in this study. Results provide preliminary evidence that suggests future research should extend evaluation of SAIs anticipatory social appraisals beyond negative, self-related social judgment biases. Implications, limitations, and future directions of the research will be discussed.