Interpretations for anxiety symptoms in social phobia
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This study explored the ways in which people interpret visible physical symptoms of anxiety. A group of participants with social phobia (SP) and a nonclinical control (NCC) group completed either the Actor version or the Observer version of the Symptom Interpretation Scale (SIS), designed for the purposes of this study. The SIS asks participants to rate the extent to which each of eight interpretations is a likely explanation for a number of visible symptoms of anxiety. On the Actor version of the SIS, participants are asked to judge how their own anxiety symptoms are interpreted by others. On the Observer version of the SIS, participants are asked how they typically interpret anxiety symptoms that they notice in others. When participants were asked about anxiety symptoms that they themselves exhibit, people with social phobia were more likely than nonclinical controls to think that others interpreted these symptoms as being indicative of intense anxiety or a psychiatric condition and were less likely to think that others interpreted these symptoms as being indicative of a normal physical state. Data also suggested that people with social phobia have a more flexible cognitive style when asked to interpret anxiety symptoms exhibited by others than when asked about how others view their own anxiety symptoms. These findings are discussed in the context of recent psychological models of social anxiety and social phobia.
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