David A Moscovitch

David A Moscovitch
University of Waterloo | UWaterloo · Department of Psychology

PhD

About

93
Publications
26,047
Reads
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2,965
Citations
Introduction
My research examines the nature and treatment of adult anxiety, with a particular focus on cognitive-behavioural models of social anxiety
Education
September 2000 - August 2006
Boston University
Field of study
  • Clinical Psychology
September 1994 - May 1999
University of Toronto
Field of study
  • Clinical Psychology

Publications

Publications (93)
Article
Social anxiety disorder (SAD) is associated with marked physiological reactivity in social-evaluative situations. However, objective measurement of biomarkers is rarely evaluated in treatment trials, despite potential utility in clarifying disorder-specific physiological correlates. This randomized controlled trial sought to examine the differentia...
Article
Full-text available
Background Previous research has shown that high levels of trait social anxiety (SA) disrupt the social repair processes following a painful social exclusion, but the cognitive mechanisms involved in these processes and how trait SA may disrupt them remain unknown.Methods We conducted a preregistered study on Prolific participants (N = 452) who wer...
Article
Full-text available
Background Imagery rescripting (IR) is an effective intervention for social anxiety disorder (SAD) that targets autobiographical memories of painful past events. IR is thought to promote needs fulfillment and memory updating by guiding patients to change unhelpful schema through addressing the needs of the younger self within the memory.Methods Qua...
Chapter
Full-text available
Focusing on one’s adversity can be a source of strength, facilitating meaning-making and growth. However, adversity can also lead to depression, anxiety, and trauma-related stress. The authors propose that the self-perspective one takes while reflecting on adversity—that is, self-distanced (third-person perspective on one’s experiences) versus self...
Article
When we experience damage to a social connection—in particular, perceiving that others have devalued our relationship with them—we experience “social pain.” Prior studies have typically examined social pain by creating explicit contexts to elicit experiences of relational devaluation. However, there may be other antecedents of social pain that do n...
Article
Background and objectives Individuals with social anxiety (SA) have well-established fears of being negatively evaluated and exposing self-perceived flaws to others. However, the unique impacts of pre-existing SA on well-being and interpersonal outcomes within the stressful context of the pandemic are currently unknown. Design In a study that took...
Article
Background A unique feature of the global coronavirus pandemic has been the widespread adoption of mask-wearing as a public health measure to minimize the risk of contagion. Little is known about the effects of increased mask-wearing on social interactions, social anxiety, or overall mental health. Objectives Explore the potential effects of mask-...
Article
Full-text available
Research on consequences of adversity appears inconclusive. Adversity can be detriment to mental health, promoting maladaptive patterns of thoughts. At the same time, posttraumatic growth studies suggest that overcoming major adversity facilitates growth in wisdom-related patterns of thoughts. We address this puzzle by examining how distinct types...
Article
Why do people with social anxiety disorder (SAD) engage in the use of safety behaviours? While past research has established that fears of negative self-portrayal are strongly associated with safety behaviour use in SAD, no research to date has investigated the potential role of fears of receiving compassion. Both types of fears could motivate thos...
Article
What drives positive affective and interpersonal experiences during social interaction? Undergraduates with high (n = 63) or low (n = 56) trait social anxiety (SA) were paired with unfamiliar low SA partners in a 45-minute conversation task. Throughout the task, participants and their conversation partners completed measures of affiliative goals, a...
Preprint
Background and objectives: Individuals with social anxiety (SA) have well-established fears of being negatively evaluated and of exposing self-perceived flaws to others. However, the unique impacts of pre-existing SA on well-being and interpersonal outcomes within the stressful context of the pandemic are currently unknown. Design: In a preregister...
Preprint
Full-text available
Research on consequences of adversity suggests a puzzle. On the one hand, posttraumatic growth studies suggest that working through major adversity facilitates growth in wisdom. On the other hand, working through adversity can exacerbate negative emotions and thoughts. We address this puzzle by examining how distinct forms of adversity impact wisdo...
Article
Background: Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) is effective for most patients with a social anxiety disorder (SAD) but a substantial proportion fails to remit. Experimental and clinical research suggests that enhancing CBT using imagery-based techniques could improve outcomes. It was hypothesized that imagery-enhanced CBT (IE-CBT) would be superior...
Article
People with social anxiety disorder (SAD) lack non-socially anxious individuals' tendency to interpret ambiguous social information in a positively biased manner. To gain a better understanding of the specific in-vivo social consequences of positive interpretation bias, we recruited 38 individuals with SAD and 31 healthy controls (HC) to participat...
Preprint
Full-text available
Folk beliefs and philosophers have long suggested that mastering adversity contributes to growth in wisdom –adaptability to the situation, perspectivism, dialectical thinking, and epistemic humility. But existing research on outcomes of adversity suggests a puzzle. On the one hand, cross-sectional studies have found adversity leads to post-traumati...
Article
Background and objectives Prior studies have shown that people display signs of increased social approach motivation and affiliative behaviour in response to social exclusion. This response is considered an adaptive strategy that serves to repair damage to social networks and increase access to mood-enhancing social rewards. However, heightened tra...
Article
Full-text available
The present study investigated whether cultivating self-compassion facilitates disclosure of self-esteem threatening experiences to others, and whether it does so indirectly by reducing shame. Eighty-five female undergraduates recalled an event that threatened their self-esteem and were randomly assigned to write about it in a self-compassionate (n...
Article
Imagery rescripting (IR) is an effective intervention for social anxiety disorder (SAD) that targets negative autobiographical memories. IR has been theorized to work through various memory mechanisms, including modifying the content of negative memory representations, changing memory appraisals, and improving negative schema or core beliefs about...
Article
Highly self-compassionate individuals are more resilient in the face of distress. Although research suggests this is due to intrapersonal coping, interpersonal coping strategies, like openness to social support, may also contribute. Prior studies on the relationship between self-compassion and received social support have yielded mixed findings and...
Article
Cognitive models of social anxiety disorder suggest that memory biases for negative social information contribute to symptoms of social anxiety (SA). However, it remains unclear whether memory biases in SA are related to social information, specifically, and if so, whether the valence of such information would moderate memory performance. In the pr...
Article
Successful social problem solving requires both an adaptive orientation toward the problem and the necessary skills to generate relevant and effective solutions. Surprisingly few studies have examined social problem solving in the context of social anxiety. We examined social problem solving in 38 participants with social anxiety disorder (SAD) in...
Article
Full-text available
Negative mental imagery contributes to symptom maintenance in social anxiety disorder (SAD). Here, we investigated the effects of image morphing, a brief mental strategy designed to facilitate access to positive images. Participants with SAD and healthy control (HC) participants were randomly assigned to receive either image morphing or supportive...
Article
Online communication is essential to modern life, but its features may also afford socially anxious individuals the ability to conceal themselves, or parts of themselves, from evaluation by others. In this way, Internet-based social interaction may function as a form of safety behavior for socially anxious people seeking to avoid face-to-face encou...
Article
Background/Objectives: Research has demonstrated an association between social anxiety and impaired Theory of Mind (ToM). We assess whether ToM deficits occur even at a subclinical level of social anxiety and whether group differences in ToM performance are consistent with interpretation bias. We also explore potential reasons as to why socially an...
Article
Pilot and open trials suggest that imagery-enhanced group cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) is highly effective for social anxiety disorder (SAD). However, before being considered reliable and generalisable, the effects of the intervention need to be replicated by clinicians in a setting that is independent of the protocol developers. The current s...
Article
Forty participants with social anxiety disorder (SAD) and 42 healthy controls (HCs) were randomized to watch a confederate deliver a speech in either a visibly anxious or confident manner. Participants rated their perception of the presenter's desirability across five attributes and compared themselves to the presenter along these same dimensions....
Article
Full-text available
Disclosure of personal distress is linked to important interpersonal and intrapersonal benefits. However, people who tend to view self-disclosure as being risky are likely to conceal their feelings and forgo opportunities to receive valuable social support. One such group of people may be those who fear receiving compassion. The current study of 85...
Article
In one of the few studies examining working memory processes in social anxiety disorder (SAD), Amir and Bomyea (2011) recruited participants with and without SAD to complete a working memory span task with neutral and social threat words. Those with SAD showed better working memory performance for social threat words compared to neutral words, sugg...
Article
Cognitive behavior group therapy (CBGT) is effective for social anxiety disorder (SAD), but a substantial proportion of patients do not typically achieve normative functioning. Cognitive behavioral models of SAD emphasize negative self-imagery as an important maintaining factor, and evidence suggests that imagery is a powerful cognitive mode for fa...
Article
People learn about their self from social information, and recent work suggests that healthy adults show a positive bias for learning self-related information. In contrast, social anxiety disorder (SAD) is characterized by a negative view of the self, yet what causes and maintains this negative self-view is not well understood. Here we employ a nov...
Article
Full-text available
Social anxiety (SA) and online privacy concerns (OPCs) are conceptually distinct fears, but both may be activated by Internet-based social contexts. Whereas SA is focused on being the object of interpersonal evaluation, OPC is focused on preventing others from gaining unauthorized access to private personal information. No research to date has inve...
Article
Background: Post-event processing (PEP) is defined as repetitive negative thinking following anxiety provoking social events. PEP is thought to maintain anxiety symptoms in Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) but little is known about the specific factors that contribute to the maintenance of PEP. Aims: The current study investigated how perceptions o...
Article
Full-text available
Many musicians experience debilitating music performance anxiety (MPA). Outside music performance, imagerybased interventions have been incorporated into treatment protocols to help individuals, including athletes and those with social anxiety, manage heightened levels of anxiety in order to excel in performance-based domains. Despite the frequent...
Article
Full-text available
The current study examined whether high socially anxious individuals overestimate the cost of committing social blunders due to the mental heuristic known as the focusing illusion, specifically that they may focus on salient blunder-related information without considering other inconspicuous blunder-unrelated information. Two hundred and fifty-nine...
Article
In this short paper in honour of my father”s Festschrift, I describe a recent collaboration with him in which we joined forces to investigate the nature of autobiographical images and memories in social anxiety. I outline our work together and the unique insights that were gleaned from our interactive contributions. Then, I reflect on how this coll...
Article
Social anxiety disorder is associated with interpersonal dysfunction, but it is not clear why people with the disorder feel unsatisfied with their relationships. One possibility is that higher social anxiety could lead to changes in sensitivity to interpersonal traits. We examined whether social anxiety moderates the types of interpersonal evaluati...
Article
Full-text available
It has been demonstrated that verbal context information alters the neural processing of ambiguous faces such as faces with no apparent facial expression. In social anxiety, neutral faces may be implicitly threatening for socially anxious individuals due to their ambiguous nature, but even more so if these neutral faces are put in self-referential...
Article
High-quality research in clinical psychology often depends on recruiting adequate samples of clinical participants with formally diagnosed difficulties. This challenge is readily met within the context of a large treatment center, but many clinical researchers work in academic settings that do not feature a medical school, hospital connections, or...
Article
Full-text available
Negative mental images in social anxiety disorder (SAD) are often rooted in autobiographical memories of formative, distressing life events. In the present study, 25 participants with SAD retrieved an idiosyncratic negative mental image and associated autobiographical memory. Participants were then randomly assigned either to a single-session of im...
Article
Self-concept clarity helps to promote self-esteem and guide adaptive social behavior. Recent studies have found that people with higher levels of trait social anxiety exhibit significantly diminished levels of self-concept clarity, but the mechanisms that might link higher social anxiety with lower self-concept clarity are untested and unknown. We...
Article
In a study designed to clarify and extend previous research on social blunders in social anxiety, 32 participants with social anxiety disorder (SAD), 25 anxious control (AC) participants with anxiety disorders other than SAD, and 25 healthy control (HC) participants with no history of anxiety problems estimated the costs of hypothetical blunders co...
Article
In the current study, 55 participants with a diagnosis of generalized social anxiety disorder (SAD), 23 participants with a diagnosis of an anxiety disorder other than SAD with no comorbid SAD, and 50 healthy controls completed a speech task as well as self-reported measures of safety behavior use. Speeches were videotaped and coded for global and...
Article
Full-text available
A recently developed self-report questionnaire, the Negative Self Portrayal Scale (NSPS; Moscovitch and Huyder in Behav Ther 42:183-196. doi:10.1016/j.beth.2010.04.007, 2011) assesses concerns about appearing socially incompetent, physically unattractive, and/or visibly anxious to evaluative others. Initial validation studies of the NSPS yielded pr...
Article
Previous research on individuals with anxiety disorders has demonstrated that both childhood peer maltreatment and concerns about negative self-portrayal are related to elevated symptoms of social anxiety (SA). In the present study, we examined whether concerns about negative self-portrayal might either moderate or mediate the relation between reca...
Article
Full-text available
Previous research suggests that socially anx-ious individuals perceive observable signs of social anxiety (SA) as being interpersonally costly and indicative of having less positive attributes, such as strength of character and attractiveness. In the current study, female participants with high (n = 60) versus low (n = 59) levels of trait SA imagin...
Article
Full-text available
Background: Video feedback (VF) interventions effectively reduce social anxiety symptoms and negative self-perception, particularly when they are preceded by cognitive preparation (CP) and followed by cognitive review. Aims: In the current study, we re-examined data from a study on the efficacy of a novel VF intervention for individuals high in...
Data
Full-text available
Previous research suggests that socially anx-ious individuals perceive observable signs of social anxiety (SA) as being interpersonally costly and indicative of having less positive attributes, such as strength of character and attractiveness. In the current study, female participants with high (n = 60) versus low (n = 59) levels of trait SA imagin...
Data
Full-text available
The features of negative mental images and associated autobiographical memo-ries were compared in high (n = 39) versus low (n = 46) socially anxious (HSA and LSA) participants using a modied version of the Waterloo Images and Memories Interview (WIMI; Moscovitch, Gavric, Bielak, Merrield, & Moscovitch, 2011) either in anticipation of a videotaped s...
Article
Full-text available
The features of negative mental images and associated autobiographical memories were compared in high (n = 39) versus low (n = 46) socially anxious (HSA and LSA) participants using a modi!ed version of the Waterloo Images and Memories Interview (WIMI; Moscovitch, Gavric, Bielak, Merri!eld, & Moscovitch, 2011) either in anticipation of a videotaped...
Article
Full-text available
Although there is much support for the efficacy of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) in treating social anxiety disorder (SAD), many patients fail to respond adequately to treatment. In the present study, self-reported judgment biases (probability and cost estimates of negative social events) and emotion regulation strategies (cognitive reappraisa...
Data
Full-text available
Studies examining memory biases for threat in social anxiety (SA) have yielded mixed results. In the present study, memory and expectancy biases were tested using a novel face recognition paradigm designed to offset methodological challenges that have hampered previous research. Following a social threat induction, undergraduates with high (n = 40)...
Article
Full-text available
Studies examining memory biases for threat in social anxiety (SA) have yielded mixed results. In the present study, memory and expectancy biases were tested using a novel face recognition paradigm designed to offset methodological challenges that have hampered previous research. Following a social threat induction, undergraduates with high (n = 40)...
Article
Although the search for psychophysiological manifestations of social anxiety has a rich history, there appear to be no published reports examining the reliability of continuous electrocortical measures that putatively index stress vulnerability and stress reactivity in socially anxious individuals. We examined the 1-week test-retest reliability of...
Data
Full-text available
Although there is much support for the efficacy of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) in treating social anxiety disorder (SAD), many patients fail to respond adequately to treatment. In the present study, self-reported judgment biases (probability and cost estimates of negative social events) and emotion regulation strategies (cognitive reapprais...
Article
Seventy high socially anxious (HSA) and 74 low socially anxious (LSA) participants rated perceived interpersonal and emotional consequences of both (a) autobiographical social blunders recalled from their own lives and (b) imagined blunders presented in standardized hypothetical social scenarios. Ratings of participants' autobiographical blunders w...
Article
The Negative Self-Portrayal Scale (NSPS) is a new questionnaire designed to assess the extent to which individuals are concerned that specific self-attributes they view as being deficient will be exposed to scrutiny and evaluation by critical others in social situations. These concerns have been proposed to drive symptoms of social anxiety and acco...
Article
Full-text available
Coupling between EEG delta and beta oscillations is enhanced among anxious and healthy individuals during anticipatory anxiety. EEG coupling patterns associated with psychotherapy have not yet been quantified in socially anxious individuals. In this study, we used a double baseline, repeated measures design, in which 25 adults with a principal diag...
Article
Patterns of synchrony in repeated measures of heart rate, skin conductance levels, negative affect, and positive affect were investigated in patients with social anxiety disorder and non-anxious controls during a speech task. Despite expected low levels of absolute concordance between measures of affect and arousal overall, results revealed clearly...
Article
Video feedback (VF) with cognitive preparation (CP) has been widely integrated into cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) protocols for social anxiety disorder (SAD) due to its presumed efficacy in improving negative self-perception. However, previous experimental studies have demonstrated that improvements in negative self-perception via VF+CP do not...
Article
What, exactly, do individuals with social phobia fear? Whereas fear of anxiety-related bodily sensations characterizes and defines panic disorder, is there a fundamental focus of anxiety that unifies individuals under the diagnostic category of social phobia? Current conceptualizations of social phobia suggest several possible candidates, including...
Article
The present study examined affective processes of social anxiety (SA) through emotional modulation of the startle reflex. Eighty-four high and low trait socially anxious undergraduates viewed socially-relevant and socially-irrelevant pleasant, neutral, and unpleasant pictures, and acoustic startle probes were presented during pictures and the inter...
Article
We suggest that beliefs in a controlling God originate, at least in part, from the desire to avoid the emotionally uncomfortable experience of perceiving the world as random and chaotic. Forty-seven participants engaged in an anxiety-provoking visualization procedure. For half, the procedure included a manipulation designed to temporarily lower bel...
Article
Sixty-seven individuals with social phobia (social anxiety disorder) and 60 healthy controls rated their perceived standing relative to others on 13 self-attribute dimensions, their level of certainty concerning those standings, and the importance of each dimension. As expected, individuals with social phobia provided self-ratings that were signifi...
Article
The purpose of this study was to explore possible differences in the experience and expression of anger across four anxiety disorder groups and non-clinical controls. Anger was assessed by two measures, the Reaction Inventory and the Aggression Questionnaire, in 112 individuals who met DSM-IV criteria for panic disorder (PD) with or without agoraph...
Article
The essential role of exposure in facilitating fear reduction during cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for the anxiety disorders is well established. Yet, the precise mechanisms underlying its efficacy have been debated for decades. How and why does fear reduction occur? This question, which is the central focus of the present chapter, is examined...