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The contributions of arousal and selffocused attention to avoidance in social anxiety
Background: Socially anxious individuals are theorized to avoid social cues and engage in safety behaviors to prevent negative evaluation, which prevents disconfirmation of social fears. Cognitive models propose that this avoidance is driven by (1) self-focused attention (SFA) and (2) physiological arousal.
Design: To examine these proposed mechanisms, we compared high socially anxious (HSA; n =29) and low socially anxious (LSA; n = 28) participants on a view-time task involving faces.
Method: Participants engaged in a task in which they viewed socially threatening (i.e., disgust, anger) and nonthreatening (i.e., happy, neutral) faces.
Results: Results revealed that HSA participants endorsed greater SFA during the view-time task and spent less time viewing angry, disgusted, and neutral facial expressions relative to LSA participants. Regression analyses revealed that arousal, as indexed by salivary α-amylase, was a unique predictor of increased face-viewing time among HSA participants. In contrast, arousal predicted decreased face-viewing time among LSA participants.
Conclusions: Findings underscore the need for further investigation of avoidance mechanisms in social anxiety.
Publication titleAnxiety, Stress and Coping
Department/SchoolSchool of Psychological Sciences
PublisherTaylor & Francis Ltd
Place of publication4 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, England, Oxon, Ox14 4Rn
Rights statementCopyright 2014 Taylor & Francis