Publication Date

2016-05-05

Availability

Embargoed

Embargo Period

2018-05-05

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Psychology (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense

2015-12-11

First Committee Member

Jennifer C. Britton

Second Committee Member

Kiara R. Timpano

Third Committee Member

Pradip Pattany

Abstract

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.

Keywords

Social Anxiety; Psychophysiology; Anticipation; Avoidance; Fear Conditioning

Available for download on Saturday, May 05, 2018

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