Master of Science (MS)
Psychology (Arts and Sciences)
Date of Defense
First Committee Member
Jennifer C. Britton
Second Committee Member
Kiara R. Timpano
Third Committee Member
Cognitive models of social anxiety propose that two factors, avoidance and anticipatory processes, play an integral role in the etiology and maintenance of symptoms. However, social anxiety research has examined anticipatory and avoidance separately, precluding identification of a potential link between these two processes. The current study conjointly examined subjective, behavioral, and psychophysiological measures of anticipation and avoidance within a modified fear conditioning paradigm across high (n = 27) and low (n = 30) levels of social anxiety. For anticipation, anxiety-related differences were exclusively observed in subjective anticipatory fear. For avoidance, anxiety-related differences were observed in the frequency of daily avoidance behaviors, as well as physiological recovery following task-based avoidance. Finally, a psychophysiological link was identified between anticipation and avoidance exclusively in high levels of social anxiety. This relationship was modulated by threat certainty. Anticipatory increases in skin conductance during the anticipation of uncertain threat were associated with greater engagement in daily avoidance behaviors, whereas the opposite relationship was observed during anticipation of certain threat. These results have implications for cognitive models of social anxiety as well as its treatment.
Social Anxiety; Psychophysiology; Anticipation; Avoidance; Fear Conditioning
Evans, Travis C., "Anticipation and Avoidance in Social Anxiety: A Psychophysiological Investigation into a Potential Link" (2016). Open Access Theses. 607.
Available for download on Saturday, May 05, 2018