Anticipation of social interaction changes implicit approach-avoidance behavior of socially anxious individuals

M.J. Voncken*, M. Rinck, A. Deckers, W.G. Lange

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Earlier research has revealed implicit avoidance of social stimuli in social anxiety (SA). This study investigated such reactions in anticipation of social interaction. High (n = 24) and low (n = 22) SA females were assessed in anticipation of a getting-acquainted conversation (anticipation) and in a no-conversation-expected (neutral) condition. The Face-Turn Approach Avoidance Task was used in which participants responded to profiles of human faces or control stimuli by either pulling (approach) or pushing (avoidance) a joystick. Upon pulling, the stimuli turned toward the participant, while they turned away upon pushing. The results demonstrated the expected decreased approach response to faces in the neutral condition for the high SAs compared to the low SAs group. Unexpectedly, in the anticipation condition the high SAs showed increased approach tendencies to faces whereas, the low SAs demonstrated a decreased approach response. The implicit social approach response of the high SAs in the anticipation condition is discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)740-749
JournalCognitive Therapy and Research
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2012

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