Out of the shadows and into the spotlight: Social blunders fuel fear of self-exposure in social anxiety disorder
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In a study designed to clarify and extend previous research on social blunders in social anxiety, 32 participants with social anxiety disorder (SAD), 25 anxious control (AC) participants with anxiety disorders other than SAD, and 25 healthy control (HC) participants with no history of anxiety problems estimated the costs of hypothetical blunders committed by either themselves or by others. Participants with SAD rated the costs of their own imagined blunders as highly inflated relative to both AC and HC participants. In contrast, for blunders participants imagined others committing, only SAD and healthy control participants' cost estimates differed from one another. Moreover, concerns about revealing self-flaws--and, in particular, about appearing socially incompetent--accounted for significant, unique variance in SAD participants' exaggerated cost estimates of self blunders, over and above symptoms of social anxiety and depression. These results enhance our understanding of how and why socially anxious individuals negatively appraise social blunders and help to clarify the potential function and role of social mishap exposures in the treatment of SAD.
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