Category: Adult Anxiety - Social

PS10- #A8 - Networks of SAD Symptoms: How Much Does Gender Matter?

Saturday, Nov 18
11:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Location: Indigo Ballroom CDGH, Level 2, Indigo Level

Keywords: Gender | Social Anxiety | Adult Anxiety

The relationship between gender and rates of treatment seeking among people with SAD has generated a few hypotheses attempting to explain the observed differences, including differences in gender role expectations (McLean & Anderson, 2009). A few studies have been performed examining whether symptom severity varies by gender (c.f., Turk et al., 1998); however, a comparison of symptom networks based on gender has not been conducted. In this study, we utilized a network approach because it allowed us to model differences in the relationships between symptoms rather than differences in symptom severity. We predicted that female participants would have significantly higher symptom scores and that men and that women would also differ from men in terms of relationships between symptom nodes.


Participants were 910 individuals diagnosed with SAD (Women = 414) who were administered the Liebowitz Social Anxiety Scale (LSAS; Liebowitz,1987). As expected, women reported significantly higher overall LSAS scores (p< .01). We estimated symptom networks of LSAS scores for male and female participants using the data in its original format (a Likert-type scale from 0 to 3), and using a binarized version of the data (no to mild impairment coded as 0 and moderate to severe impairment coded as 1). Using bootstrap methods, we discovered adequate stability for strength in the binarized symptom network of women, but poor stability for men in both versions of the data. For both men and women, avoidance of “giving a report to a group” was the item with the highest strength index (i.e. it was most interconnected in the network). We used a network comparison test to test the overall differences in strength between male and female symptom networks, the overall differences in the networks, and differences in how each node connects to another node. Against hypothesis, there were no overall differences in networks for men and women on these three comparison tests (ps > .11).  


We used a novel approach to examine the difference gender has on SAD symptoms. Interestingly, although we found an overall difference LSAS score with women reporting higher symptom scores overall, men and women did not differ in terms of how their symptoms related to each other. Our findings suggest that differences between genders in terms of severity may not correspond to differences in the relationship between symptoms.

Natasha A. Tonge

Graduate Student
Washington University in St. Louis
St. Louis, Missouri

Thomas L. Rodebaugh

Associate Professor
Washington University

Marilyn L. Piccirillo

Doctoral Student in Clinical Psychology
Washington University in St. Louis

Eiko I. Fried

Postdoctoral Fellow
University of Amsterdam
Leuven, Belgium

Arielle Horenstein

Graduate Student
Temple University
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Amanda Morrison

Assistant Professor
California State University, East Bay
Stanford, California

Philippe Goldin

Director, Clinically Applied Affective Neuroscience Laboratory
Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing, University of California, Davis
Sacramento, California

James Gross

Stanford University

Katya C. Fernandez

Post Doctoral Fellow
Stanford University

Michelle H. Lim

Lecturer in Clinical Psychology
Swinburne University of Technology

Carlos Blanco

Columbia University/NYSPI

Franklin Schneier

Columbia University/NYSPI

Michael R. Liebowitz

Columbia University

Ryan Bogdan

Washington University in St. Louis

Renee Thompson

Washington University in St. Louis

Richard Heimberg

Temple University
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania