Category: Adult Anxiety - Social
Anxious individuals tend to have negative self-schemata and draw heavily upon these negatively biased beliefs when thinking about their experiences. In particular, socially anxious individuals' negative self-schemata potentially impact the ways they recollect positive and negative social experiences. It is expected that the relationship between self-reported ratings of affect experienced during social interactions throughout a day and retrospective overall ratings of the effectiveness and enjoyment of social interactions at the end of that day will be stronger when the affective experiences during social interactions are most congruent with the individual’s self-schema. Specifically, this relationship between negative daily experiences and end-of-day report of those experiences is expected to be stronger for persons higher (vs. lower) in social anxiety because concerns about negative social interactions are so central to their self-schema.
Participants (N=60 college students) completed the Social Interaction Anxiety Scale (SIAS). Each participant attended 2 lab sessions, 2 weeks apart. In the first lab session, a customized app was installed on participants' smart phones. Over 2 weeks, the mobile app prompted participants up to 6 (random) times a day to answer short questions about their affect and contexts (e.g., "How positive are you feeling?"; "Who are you interacting with?"). At the end of each day, participants answered questions about their affect and social interactions that day (e.g., "Overall, how effectively did you interact with others today?").
Results indicated, as expected, that higher negative affect and lower positive affect during social interactions were associated with lower overall ratings of effectiveness and enjoyment at the end of the day (all p < .001), and this effect was moderated by social anxiety (p < .01). Specifically, the link between negative affective experiences during social interactions on a day and the end-of-day report of how enjoyable those experiences were was stronger for persons higher (vs. lower) in social anxiety. A similar moderation effect was not observed for positive affect ratings during social interactions on a day or when predicting end-of-day ratings of effectiveness (all p > .05). Overall, results indicated that though more socially anxious individuals do not perceive themselves to be less effective than less anxious individuals, their recollection of how much they enjoyed prior social interactions may be especially colored by their prior negative social experiences. This suggests it may be important to examine both perceived effectiveness and enjoyment of social interactions in social anxiety because they may show distinct bias patterns.
Emily Geyer– University of Virginia
Karl Fua– Doctoral Student, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia
Philip Chow– University of Virginia
Wes Bonelli– University of Virginia
Yu Huang– University of Virginia
Laura Barnes– University of Virginia
Bethany Teachman– Professor, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia