“Social Anxiety Disorder Carved at its Joints”: Evidence for the taxonicity of social anxiety disorder
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Previous findings suggest that social anxiety disorder may be best characterized as having a dimensional latent structure (Kollman et al., 2006; Weeks et al., 2009). We attempted to extend previous taxometric investigations of social anxiety by examining the latent structure of social anxiety disorder symptoms in a large sample comprised of social anxiety disorder patients (i.e., putative taxon members) and community residents/undergraduate respondents (i.e., putative complement class members). MAXEIG and MAMBAC were performed with indicator sets drawn from a self-report measure of social anxiety symptoms, the Social Interaction Phobia Scale (Carleton et al., 2009). MAXEIG and MAMBAC analyses, as well as comparison analyses utilizing simulated taxonic and dimensional datasets, yielded converging evidence that social anxiety disorder has a taxonic latent structure. Moreover, 100% of the confirmed social anxiety disorder patients in our overall sample were correctly assigned to the identified taxon class, providing strong support for the external validity of the identified taxon; and k-means cluster analysis results corroborated our taxometric base-rate estimates. Implications regarding the conceptualization, diagnosis, and assessment of social anxiety disorder are discussed.
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