Proposal Title

Associations between Self-Reported Social Anxiety and Emotional Cue Reading

Primary Faculty Mentor’s Name

Erin Tone

Session Format

Poster

Abstract

Social anxiety can be the experience of fear or discomfort about being judged or evaluated by others in social situations. Considerable evidence from clinical samples suggests that this type of anxiety is associated with cognitive biases. Findings are mixed, however, with regard to associations between social anxiety and accurate perception of others' emotions, particularly in research on subclinical samples. The objective of the current study was to examine associations between subclinical social anxiety and performances on the Mind in the Eye Task (MIE) a measure of the ability to identify emotions in pictures of expressive eyes. We predicted that both fear of negative evaluation and fear and avoidance of social situations would be negatively associated with MIE task performance; in other words, more socially anxious people would perform more poorly. College students (n = 389) completed the MIE, the Fear of Negative Evaluation Scale (FNE), and the fear and avoidance subscales of the Leibowitz Social Anxiety Scale (LSAS). Results of a linear regression analysis indicated that, contrary to predictions, scores on the FNE were positively associated with MIE scores, suggesting a pattern of over-mentalizing among more anxious individuals. Further, LSAS Avoidance scores were positively associated with MIE scores, such that students with lower scores were significantly less accurate at decoding mental states. These findings are consistent with previous research that documents a negative perceptual bias in clinically based SAD conditions, but advances the examination into the avoidance properties of social anxiety. This association between self-reported social anxiety and clinically based social anxiety disorder may have important implications for our understanding of the underlying social-cognitive mechanisms of social anxiety.

Keywords

social anxiety, Mind in the Eye Task, Fear of Negative Evaluation Scale, Leibowitz Social Anxiety Scale

Presentation Year

2017

Publication Type and Release Option

Event

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Associations between Self-Reported Social Anxiety and Emotional Cue Reading

Social anxiety can be the experience of fear or discomfort about being judged or evaluated by others in social situations. Considerable evidence from clinical samples suggests that this type of anxiety is associated with cognitive biases. Findings are mixed, however, with regard to associations between social anxiety and accurate perception of others' emotions, particularly in research on subclinical samples. The objective of the current study was to examine associations between subclinical social anxiety and performances on the Mind in the Eye Task (MIE) a measure of the ability to identify emotions in pictures of expressive eyes. We predicted that both fear of negative evaluation and fear and avoidance of social situations would be negatively associated with MIE task performance; in other words, more socially anxious people would perform more poorly. College students (n = 389) completed the MIE, the Fear of Negative Evaluation Scale (FNE), and the fear and avoidance subscales of the Leibowitz Social Anxiety Scale (LSAS). Results of a linear regression analysis indicated that, contrary to predictions, scores on the FNE were positively associated with MIE scores, suggesting a pattern of over-mentalizing among more anxious individuals. Further, LSAS Avoidance scores were positively associated with MIE scores, such that students with lower scores were significantly less accurate at decoding mental states. These findings are consistent with previous research that documents a negative perceptual bias in clinically based SAD conditions, but advances the examination into the avoidance properties of social anxiety. This association between self-reported social anxiety and clinically based social anxiety disorder may have important implications for our understanding of the underlying social-cognitive mechanisms of social anxiety.