The causal role of selfawareness in blushinganxious, sociallyanxious and social phobics individuals

S.M. Bögels*, C.T.J. Lamers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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This study examined the effect of attentional focus on social anxiety in three groups of subjects: high versus low blushing-anxious participants (n=48); high versus low socially anxious participants (n=60); and social phobic patients compared to patients with other anxiety disorders (n=48). Participants were asked to imagine two series of social situations, in which the hero was in the centre of others' attention. In the first series of stories, the type of feedback from the audience (positive, negative and neutral) and the direction of attention of the hero (self- versus task-focused) were manipulated, and in the second series of stories, the presence or absence of blushing and the direction of attention of the hero were manipulated. In line with the expectations, self-focused attention (SFA) led to more social anxiety than task-focused attention (TFA) in all the three experiments, and high blushing-anxious, socially anxious, and social phobic groups reported higher levels of self-awareness than their low-anxious comparison groups. No evidence was found for the idea that self-focusing is specifically detrimental for participants who are already socially anxious, blushing-anxious, or socially phobic. Also, attentional focus did not interact with the valence of social feedback. Finally, results provided some support for the hypothesis that fear of blushing is mediated by self-focusing. The results suggest that irrespective of trait social anxiety, and irrespective of the outcome of asocial situation (positive, neutral or negative), SFA increases state social anxiety, or TFA decreases state social anxiety.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1367-1384
JournalBehaviour Research and Therapy
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2002

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