Appearing Anxious Leads to Negative Judgments by Others Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • OBJECTIVES: To investigate people's perceptions of anxiety symptoms and the disclosure of anxiety by others, and how one's own level of social anxiety affects these perceptions. DESIGN: Undergraduate students and community members high (n = 83) and low (n = 80) in social anxiety, as measured by the Social Interaction Anxiety Scale (SIAS; Mattick & Clark, 1998), were randomly assigned to watch 1 of 4 videos in which the target individual either appeared or did not appear anxious, and either disclosed or did not disclose her anxiety. Participants rated the target individual on various characteristics on which socially anxious individuals often fear being judged, and completed measures of their own level of social anxiety, perceived similarity to the target individual, and reasons for their ratings. RESULTS: Participants negatively evaluated others who looked anxious on qualities related to awkwardness, social skills, and weakness, and the disclosure of anxiety was associated with fewer negative judgments. Participants' own levels of social anxiety were not related to their judgments. CONCLUSIONS: This study provided evidence that the concerns held by socially anxious individuals that others will judge them negatively based on their signs of anxiety is accurate to a degree. These findings might inform the process of cognitive restructuring for social anxiety.

publication date

  • March 2012