Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation


A Multimethod Investigation of Social Anxiety Maintenance Public Deposited

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  • Considerable research indicates that biased cognition (i.e., overly critical and self-focused processing of social information) contributes to the maintenance of social anxiety (SA). Self-compassion has shown promise for reducing engagement in this type of cognition following a social interaction, known as post event processing (PEP). The present study extended prior work by examining the extent to which self-compassion’s impact on PEP generalizes to other social situations and endures over time. The study also sought to clarify cognitive and neural mechanisms that may underlie this effect. I recruited 184 high-SA adults who completed an online public speaking task prior to random assignment to either a self-compassion (SC) (n = 94) or neutral control writing exercise (CTL; n = 90), followed by tasks and self-report questionnaires assessing outcomes of interest. Questionnaires were re-administered at a one-week follow-up survey. A subset of the overall sample (n = 41) completed the online study procedures from the laboratory to allow collection of electroencephalography (EEG) data. Compared to CTL, the SC condition increased participants’ use of positive emotion words during the exercise; however, there was no group difference in self-compassion at the end of the session. Engagement in PEP during the week following the main study session was significantly associated with worse self-judgments at follow-up. However, the SC condition did not reduce PEP or improve self-judgments. There was evidence of cognitive bias toward SA-related information via behavioral indices and directional effects in the neural/EEG outcomes; however, the SC condition did not reduce any of these measures of bias. Findings provide further evidence of cognitive bias in SA. However, a brief expressive writing exercise may be insufficient to effectively induce SC and/or inoculate a high-SA sample against subsequent social-evaluative stress. Strengths, limitations, and suggestions for future research are discussed.

Date Issued
  • 2022-07-27
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  • 2022-09-14
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