Not self-focused attention but negative beliefs affect poor social performance in social anxiety: an investigation of pathways in the social anxiety - social rejection relationship.

M.J. Voncken*, C. Dijk, P.J. de Jong, J. Roelofs

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Patients with social anxiety disorder (SAD) not only fear negative evaluation but are indeed less likeable than people without SAD. Previous research shows social performance to mediate this social anxiety-social rejection relationship. This study studied two pathways hypothesized to lead to poor social performance in social anxiety: increased self-focused attention and negative beliefs. State social anxiety was experimentally manipulated in high and low-blushing-fearful individuals by letting half of the participants believe that they blushed intensely during a 5 min getting-acquainted interaction with two confederates. Participants rated their state social anxiety, self-focused attention, and level of negative beliefs. Two confederates and two video-observers rated subsequently likeability (i.e., social rejection) and social performance of the participants. In both groups, the social anxiety-social rejection relationship was present. Although state social anxiety was related to heightened self-focused attention and negative beliefs, only negative beliefs were associated with relatively poor social performance. In contrast to current SAD models, self-focused attention did not play a key-role in poor social performance but seemed to function as a by-product of state social anxiety. Beliefs of being negatively evaluated seem to elicit changes in behavioral repertoire resulting in a poor social performance and subsequent rejection. 

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)984-991
Number of pages8
JournalBehaviour Research and Therapy
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2010


  • FEAR
  • Negative beliefs
  • Self-focused attention
  • Social anxiety disorder
  • Social performance
  • Social rejection

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