Article

A Contextual Approach to Experiential Avoidance and Social Anxiety: Evidence From an Experimental Interaction and Daily Interactions of People With Social Anxiety Disorder

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Abstract

Experiential avoidance (EA), the tendency to avoid internal, unwanted thoughts and feelings, is hypothesized to be a risk factor for social anxiety. Existing studies of experiential avoidance rely on trait measures with minimal contextual consideration. In two studies, we examined the association between experiential avoidance and anxiety within real-world social interactions. In the first study, we examined the effect of experiential avoidance on social anxiety in everyday life. For 2 weeks, 37 participants with Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) and 38 healthy controls provided reports of experiential avoidance and social anxiety symptoms during face-to-face social interactions. Results showed that momentary experiential avoidance was positively related to anxiety symptoms during social interactions and this effect was stronger among people with SAD. People low in EA showed greater sensitivity to the level of situational threat than high EA people. In the second study, we facilitated an initial encounter between strangers. Unlike Study 1, we experimentally created a social situation where there was either an opportunity for intimacy (self-disclosure conversation) or no such opportunity (small-talk conversation). Results showed that greater experiential avoidance during the self-disclosure conversation temporally preceded increases in social anxiety for the remainder of the interaction; no such effect was found in the small-talk conversation. Our findings provide insight into the association between experiential avoidance on social anxiety in laboratory and naturalistic settings, and demonstrate that the effect of EA depends upon level of social threat and opportunity. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved).

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... When we leave our homes, we are unsure whether we should wear our masks at all times, and when we cannot avoid sneezing, we look around in fears of receiving admonishing looks. This abnormal situation of social isolation leads to increased levels of social anxiety (Kashdan et al., 2014). However, as the COVID-19 pandemic eased, the social isolation requirements were also relaxed, which also lowered the levels of social anxiety among the public. ...
... The only people with whom people can interact are their family members, housemates, or partners. This form of social isolation can significantly change individuals' mental states (Forte et al., 2020b) and foster or even aggravate social anxiety (Kashdan et al., 2014). ...
... We focused on social anxiety as an agency of the mental states of the Chinese population given that social anxiety is sensitive to social isolation (Kashdan et al., 2014). Given the suddenness of the COVID-19 pandemic, we were unable to examine the variation tendency of social anxiety during the COVID-19 outbreak. ...
Article
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We conducted an intertemporal online experiment to examine the contagion of others’ positive and negative donation behaviors. We collected two sets of data during and after the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic in China. The participants donated to the charitable fund, “Against COVID-19, The China Charity Federation Is on the Move.” We further investigated the mediating effect of social anxiety on the link between the contagion of donation behaviors and the changes in the COVID-19 situation. A total of 1022 participants (Mage = 22.68, 63.01% females) participated in the intertemporal online experiment and were considered in the statistical analyses. Our findings were as follows. First, the donation behaviors of others significantly changed these participants’ initial donation decisions, with increased or decreased donation amounts being associated with a positive or negative donation behavior, respectively. Others’ positive donation behavior was more likely to nudge these participants into changing their initial decisions (31.82%, Mean = 15.177, SD = 1.586) than negative donation behavior (18.28%, Mean = 12.122, SD = 1.908) during the peak of the pandemic. However, such difference disappeared after the peak because the contagion of positive donation behavior significantly decreased along with the abatement of the pandemic. Second, the participants’ social anxiety decreased along with the abatement of the pandemic, and social anxiety completely mediated the relationship between the pandemic abatement and the decrease in the contagion of positive donation behaviors. These findings advance our understanding of the motivations and influence mechanism of individuals’ donation decisions in the current pandemic situation and help make informed policy making decisions.
... anxiety as evidenced by shaking hands) and subject them to unfavorable evaluation (Heimberg, Brozovich, & Rapee, 2010;Spokas, Luterek, & Heimberg, 2009). They hyperfocus on managing and eliminating uncomfortable thoughts, feelings, and behaviors (Kashdan et al., , 2014. The motivation to avoid threat takes precedence over the motivation to pursue potentially rewarding experiences, potentially decreasing one's probability of deriving rewards from the world unfolding around them (see Richey et al., 2019 for a review). ...
... Frequent use of experiential avoidance is a risk factor for the development and maintenance of most anxiety disorders (for reviews see Chawla & Ostafin, 2007;Goodman, Kashdan, Larrazabal, & West, 2019) and specifically, is one of only two daily experiences (the other being low positive emotions) that differentiate people with SAD from psychologically healthy adults . The paradox of deploying experiential avoidance is that the very thoughts and feelings someone is trying to control or get rid of often come back with greater intensity and frequency (Kashdan et al., 2014;Wegner, 1994). When excessive effort and value are placed on controlling emotions, fewer cognitive and emotional resources are available for a person to be fully present and construct meaningful experiences. ...
... Research on experiential avoidance offers indirect support, as people with SAD use experiential avoidance more frequently than non-anxious peers (e.g. Kashdan et al., , 2014. Alternatively, people with SAD may pursue strivings that are more likely to be infringed upon by anxiety. ...
Article
People with social anxiety disorder (SAD) display maladaptive attitudes towards emotions. In this experience-sampling study, we explored the extent to which people with SAD viewed anxiety and pain as an impediment to pursuing personal strivings and deriving meaning in life. Participants were adults diagnosed with SAD and a control comparison group who completed baseline questionnaires and daily surveys for 14 consecutive days. People with SAD perceived anxiety and pain as interfering with progress towards their strivings to a greater degree than healthy controls. Perception of emotion-related goal interference was inversely associated with daily meaning. This relationship was moderated by diagnostic group such that there was a strong, inverse association with daily meaning in life for people with SAD; for controls, no association was found. Results suggest that negative beliefs about the value of anxiety and pain are pronounced in people with SAD and may impede derivation of meaning in life.
... The scale which this model is derived fromis designed to assess different strategies in how individuals regulate their emotions, rather than observing adaptive or maladaptive functioning, which Fancourt et al. (2019) argue have unclear divisions and can be changeable. Instead, adopting emotion regulation strategies are thought to be generally linked to more positive mental health and wellbeing, regardless of whether a strategy might consist of avoidance in order to cope with stress or anxiety (Kashdan et al., 2014). Overall, nostalgia has been shown to be a meaningful resource, which can be harnessed as a tool for reflection and development. ...
... Factor scores from those coded into the Neutral group were the lowest. This supports previous research, suggesting that the use of any emotion regulation strategy in general, as opposed to not having a strategy, leads to the induction of positive emotion (Kashdan et al., 2014;Fancourt et al., 2019). ...
... During such an uncertain time of hardship of unforeseen duration, forms of escapism associated with the Avoidance strategy may be the most unhelpful in relation to our wellbeing when it is not known how long one might be trying to escape for. Kashdan et al. (2014) highlight the potential for avoidance of personal anxieties as a strategy to enhance social anxiety in multiple contexts, which is highly applicable to the context of lockdown. Additionally, Self-Development is most difficult to grasp conceptually during lockdown periods whereby learning from the past to develop one's present and future is difficult when it is not clear what the future holds. ...
Article
Full-text available
Nostalgic music is defined as that which evokes feelings of nostalgia through reminders of certain periods of life, places or people. Feelings of nostalgia are said to occur during times of hardship and difficult transitionary periods, such as the first COVID-19 lockdown in the United Kingdom in 2020. Here, the reassurance of the past might have held certainty that could sustain a sense of meaning and purpose in life and influence wellbeing. The aims of the presented study were to explore the nature of music-induced nostalgia during the lockdown, by analysing participants’ narratives conjured by the music and their emotional responses to them, and to determinethe extent that using nostalgic music listening as an emotion regulation strategy had an impact on wellbeing. Data was collected by means of an online questionnaire, which retrospectively investigated nostalgic music during the lockdown. Participants listened to a self-selected piece of music that they had listened to 3 months prior whichinduced feelings of nostalgia, reported their resulting emotion and the content of memories associated with their nostalgia, and completed a questionnaire rating their experienced effect of nostalgia in relation to their piece of music. Following this, we investigated the functions that nostalgic music tends to have in regulating emotions through means of a pre-validated scale. 570 participants (34% identified as male) were recruited (age years M = 44, SD = 16). Concurrent with existing research, the findings suggest that there are significant differences in the affective and narrative content of nostalgic music listening in relation to which emotion regulation strategy was used, and that employing nostalgic music listening as a form of approaching difficult emotions can have a positive impact on wellbeing.
... This is also in line with a previous study on synchrony in movement which found negative associations between synchrony and social anxiety in closeness-generating conversations . Importantly, hypotheses 2 and 3 focus on closeness-generating conversations because previous studies found that closeness-generating conversations sparked pathological SAD-related processes whereas small-talk conversations did not Kashdan et al., 2014). (4) We hypothesized that hypotheses 2 and 3 would hold when examining leading synchrony (i.e., HR synchrony initiated by individuals with SAD). ...
... Interactions. Each dyad was randomized to either a small-talk or a closeness-generating conversation, based on procedures from Kashdan et al. (2014) and Aron, Melinat, Aron, Vallone, and Bator (1997). Given that participants were strangers to one another regardless of the type of conversation (i.e., small-talk or closeness-generating), they were instructed to do their best to get to know their partners by sharing personal information about themselves. ...
... This is consistent with previous studies that found closeness-generating conversations to be more anxiety-provoking compared to small-talk conversations for individuals with SAD (but not for NSA individuals; . Moreover, Kashdan et al. (2014) found that closeness-generating conversations sparked pathological SAD-related processes (e.g., experiential avoidance) whereas small-talk conversations did not. Thus, among individuals with SAD, closeness-generating conversations (but not small-talk ones) may result in elevated social anxiety as well as related pathological processes (e.g., self-focused attention and self-concealment behaviors) which may hinder the ability to synchronize with others. ...
Article
Individuals with social anxiety disorder (SAD) experience significant interpersonal impairment. However, little is known about the physiological processes that are associated with interpersonal dysfunction in the disorder. In the present study we examined heart-rate (HR) synchrony in SAD during “getting-acquainted” interactions between opposite-sex partners. Participants included 118 individuals who formed 59 dyads: 30 dyads that included one individual with SAD and one non-socially anxious (NSA) individual (SAD dyads) and 29 dyads that included two NSA individuals (control dyads). Dyads were randomly assigned to either a closeness-generating conversation or a small talk conversation. For closeness-generating conversations, we found that social anxiety was positively associated with HR synchrony in control dyads but negatively associated with HR synchrony in SAD dyads. These results remained when controlling for depressive symptoms and participants’ movement. Our findings suggest that in more intimate social contexts, SAD may impair the ability to create HR synchrony between interlocuters and this can have negative relational consequences. Our findings are further discussed in the context of cognitive behavioral and interpersonal models of SAD, and clinical and research implications are delineated.
... Moreover, some social situations elicit anxiety in most individuals with SAD (e.g., public speaking), whereas other social situations elicit anxiety for only a small subsample of individuals with SAD (e.g., eating or drinking in front of people; Xu et al., 2012). In a recent study, Kashdan, Goodman, et al. (2014) examined opposite-sex dyads of undergraduate students who participated in a lab-based interaction. The social context of the interaction was manipulated such that each dyad was randomly assigned to a closeness-generating condition requiring self-disclosure or a small-talk condition. ...
... The social context of the interaction was manipulated such that each dyad was randomly assigned to a closeness-generating condition requiring self-disclosure or a small-talk condition. Results indicated that pathological processes (e.g., experiential avoidance leading to increased anxiety) were observed only in the closeness-generating condition because it may have been perceived as more threatening by highly socially anxious individuals (Kashdan, Goodman, et al., 2014) . ...
... A second gap in the literature is that most previous studies focusing on social anxiety in interactions examined nonclinical samples (e.g., Heerey & Kring, 2007;Kashdan, Goodman, et al., 2014), and this may lead to a range restriction in social anxiety. A third gap is that previous studies that examined individuals with SAD during interactions (e.g., Plasencia, Taylor, & Alden, 2016;Voncken & Dijk, 2013;Vöncken et al., 2008) focused on interactions between individuals with SAD and study confederates (as opposed to interactions between 2 participants). ...
Article
We examined nonverbal synchrony during opposite-sex interactions of individuals with social anxiety disorder (SAD). Participants were 156 individuals: 38 diagnosed with SAD and 118 individuals who were not socially anxious (NSA). Participants formed 78 dyads of either 2 NSA individuals (control dyads; n = 40) or 1 individual with SAD and 1 NSA individual (SAD dyads; n = 38). Dyads were randomly assigned to either a closeness-generating conversation or a small-talk conversation, and nonverbal synchrony was derived from computer analysis of videos. We found that for control dyads, closeness-generating conversations led to increased nonverbal synchrony compared with small-talk conversations but did not find the same outcome in SAD dyads. We also found a positive association between social anxiety and nonverbal synchrony in small-talk conversations but a negative association in closeness-generating conversations. Thus, we found evidence for impaired nonverbal synchrony in SAD using objective measures. Implications for psychopathology and treatment are discussed.
... Importantly, while avoidance itself is not intrinsically pathological, it can become problematic when it is both contextually insensitive and relied upon in a chronic manner as a means of regulating unpleasant internal experiences (Forsyth, Eifert, & Barrios, 2006), such as in the case of consistently high EA. Indeed, this is reflected in the consistent finding that higher EA is associated with negative outcomes including greater mental health symptom severity (Gámez et al., 2011;Kashdan et al., 2014;Thompson & Waltz, 2010), lower quality of life (Gámez et al., 2011;Kashdan, Morina, & Priebe, 2009;Kirk, Meyer, Whisman, Deacon, & Arch, 2019), and poorer physical health (Andrew & Dulin, 2007;Berghoff, Tull, DiLillo, Messman-Moore, & Gratz, 2017). Further, high EA has been shown to be associated with a variety of diagnoses including anxiety disorders (Bardeen, Fergus, & Orcutt, 2013;Kashdan et al., 2014;Newman & Llera, 2011;Thompson & Waltz, 2010), depression (Spinhoven, Drost, de Rooij, van Hemert, & Penninx, 2014), alcohol and substance use disorders (Levin et al., 2012;Shorey et al., 2017), and borderline personality disorder (Jacob, Ower, & Buchholz, 2013). ...
... Indeed, this is reflected in the consistent finding that higher EA is associated with negative outcomes including greater mental health symptom severity (Gámez et al., 2011;Kashdan et al., 2014;Thompson & Waltz, 2010), lower quality of life (Gámez et al., 2011;Kashdan, Morina, & Priebe, 2009;Kirk, Meyer, Whisman, Deacon, & Arch, 2019), and poorer physical health (Andrew & Dulin, 2007;Berghoff, Tull, DiLillo, Messman-Moore, & Gratz, 2017). Further, high EA has been shown to be associated with a variety of diagnoses including anxiety disorders (Bardeen, Fergus, & Orcutt, 2013;Kashdan et al., 2014;Newman & Llera, 2011;Thompson & Waltz, 2010), depression (Spinhoven, Drost, de Rooij, van Hemert, & Penninx, 2014), alcohol and substance use disorders (Levin et al., 2012;Shorey et al., 2017), and borderline personality disorder (Jacob, Ower, & Buchholz, 2013). Taken together, EA can be conceptualized as a latent psychological factor that influences a range of avoidance behaviors in distressing contexts and across diverse psychological symptom profiles. ...
... Consistent with this dimensional view, researchers have historically referred to EA in terms of a given self-report score that exists along a broader range of scores. For example, different individuals can express varying levels of EA, such as "high" or "low" EA (e.g., Kashdan et al., 2014). Importantly, when used in this way, "high" or "low" EA does not reflect qualitatively distinct types of EA, but rather a shared type of EA with different levels of severity. ...
Article
Experiential avoidance, a trait-like construct referring to the tendency to rigidly avoid or change unpleasant internal experiences stemming from an unwillingness to experience them, is believed to contribute to the development and maintenance of various forms of psychopathology. Despite significant research on this construct, it remains unclear whether experiential avoidance is dimensional or categorical at the latent level. The current study examined the latent structure of experiential avoidance using three taxometric analytic approaches (MAXimum Eigenvalue, Mean Above Minus Below A Curve, Latent-Mode Factor Analysis) applied to data from two independent samples and using three widely used measures of experiential avoidance. The first sample (n = 922) completed the Multidimensional Experiential Avoidance Questionnaire (Gámez, Chmielewski, Kotov, Ruggero, & Watson, 2011), while the second sample (n = 615) completed the Brief Experiential Avoidance Questionnaire (Gámez et al., 2014) and Acceptance and Action Questionnaire-II (Bond et al., 2011). Across both samples and all three measures, experiential avoidance exhibited a dimensional structure. The clinical and research implications of this finding for experiential avoidance are discussed.
... Two recent studies examined the effects of social context on social anxiety and relationship outcomes. Kashdan et al. (2014) examined opposite-sex dyads of undergraduate students who participated in a lab-based interaction. The social context of the interaction was manipulated such that each dyad was randomly assigned to a closeness-generating condition requiring selfdisclosure or a small-talk condition. ...
... The social context of the interaction was manipulated such that each dyad was randomly assigned to a closeness-generating condition requiring selfdisclosure or a small-talk condition. Pathological processes (e.g., experiential avoidance leading to increased anxiety) were observed only in the closeness-generating condition, as it may have been perceived as more threatening (Kashdan et al., 2014). Plasencia, Taylor, and Alden (2016) examined the effects of reducing selfconcealment. ...
... Hypothesis 2: Among individuals with SAD, the closeness-generating condition (which requires more self-disclosure) would be more anxietyprovoking, but would result in more positive outcomes (i.e., greater reductions in anxiety and greater partner desire for future interaction) compared with the small-talk condition. This is based on studies that examined the effect of contexts such as closeness-generating conversations/reducing self-concealment conditions (Kashdan et al., 2014;Plasencia et al., 2016). ...
Article
Individuals with social anxiety disorder (SAD) have substantial difficulties in romantic relationships. The aim of the present study was to examine initial, opposite-sex interactions of individuals with SAD and their interaction partners. Specifically, we investigated gender and social context (small talk vs. closeness-generating conversations) and their effects on momentary social anxiety during the interaction, as well as on participants’ desire for future interaction. Participants in this study ( N = 160) formed 42 experimental dyads, each comprising one individual with SAD and another non–socially anxious (NSA) individual, and 38 control dyads of two NSA individuals. We found that men with SAD benefitted significantly from closeness-generating interactions such that levels of momentary social anxiety were greatly reduced and both members of the dyad reported increased desire for future interaction. This effect was not found in small-talk conversations and not found for women with SAD. Implications for psychopathology and treatment are discussed.
... State measure of EA The State Measure of Experiential Avoidance (SMEA) is a brief measure of state EA (Kashdan et al., 2014). It was originally designed as an experience sampling state measure and is positively correlated with the AAQ-II (r = 0.75). ...
... The strongest predictor of state EA when physically uncomfortable was one's relationship with discomfort which is consistent with the literature (Hershenberg et al., 2017;Kashdan et al., 2014;Machell et al., 2015;Veilleux et al., 2018) and contributes to a small body of evidence investigating EA as a state. Participants who reported they were uncomfortable sooner reported higher state EA after completing the task which aligns with the Zettle et al. (2012) study. ...
... Due to the contrived nature of the study, results are not a perfect analogue of EA in the real world. As the state-based measure of EA items were adapted from Kashdan et al.'s (2014) work, these items were designed to more explicitly target emotional discomfort. However, the SMEA wording was not altered to capture physical discomfort, so it is possible that the SMEA following the cold pressor may not have fully captured state EA as it relates to physical discomfort. ...
Article
Full-text available
Experiential avoidance (EA) is considered a key factor in human suffering. However, research in this area is often based on self-report measures with limitations in psychometric properties. To study EA beyond self-report methodology, researchers have used behavioral (e.g., Zettle et al., 2012) and physiological measures (e.g., Karekla, Forsyth, & Kelly, 2004). In their 2012 paper, Zettle and colleagues argue EA is better conceptualized as a functional response class than hypothetical construct, finding a relationship between levels of EA across two analogue tasks involving physical discomfort. However, researchers have yet to study EA across fundamentally distinct contexts. In the current study, the relationship between state and trait EA in contexts of physical and social discomfort using behavior analogue measures was investigated. Performance on the cold pressor task and a modified version of the Trier Social Stress Test (TSST) were evaluated in a convenience sample. It was hypothesized that TSST endurance would predict cold pressor task endurance, further supporting the notion that high avoiders experience similar difficulties across different contexts. Contrary to this hypothesis, endurance of one task was not predictive of endurance of the other. State and trait EA were also evaluated as predictors of cold pressor and TSST Speech and Arithmetic endurance. Based on these analyses, state EA was the strongest predictor of cold pressor and TSST endurance above and beyond heart rate, perceived pain tolerance, and interpersonal sensitivity. Given these results, contextual behavioral science researchers interested in studying EA should turn their focus to understanding the nuances of context.
... As EMA records daily life in natural settings, researchers can collect data with high ecological validity (Myin-Germeys et al., 2018;Shiffman, Stone, & Hufford, 2008;Stone & Shiffman, 1994). Previous studies have indicated that momentary experiential avoidance predicts a high negative or a low positive condition (Hershenberg, Mavandadi, Wright, & Thase, 2017;Kashdan et al., 2013;Kashdan et al., 2014;Machell, Goodman, & Kashdan, 2015;Levin et al., 2018;Udachina et al., 2009;Udachina, Varese, Myin-Germeys, & Bentall, 2014;Wenze, Gaugler, Sheets, & DeCicco, 2018). Furthermore, global characteristics or trait experiential avoidance measured by self-report questionnaires have been reported to moderate the relation between momentary experiential avoidance and its consequences (Kashdan et al., 2014;Levin et al., 2018). ...
... Previous studies have indicated that momentary experiential avoidance predicts a high negative or a low positive condition (Hershenberg, Mavandadi, Wright, & Thase, 2017;Kashdan et al., 2013;Kashdan et al., 2014;Machell, Goodman, & Kashdan, 2015;Levin et al., 2018;Udachina et al., 2009;Udachina, Varese, Myin-Germeys, & Bentall, 2014;Wenze, Gaugler, Sheets, & DeCicco, 2018). Furthermore, global characteristics or trait experiential avoidance measured by self-report questionnaires have been reported to moderate the relation between momentary experiential avoidance and its consequences (Kashdan et al., 2014;Levin et al., 2018). As mentioned earlier, EMA can help investigate daily life behavior in detail. ...
Article
This preliminary investigation aims to develop a new measure for momentary experiential avoidance in daily life using ecological momentary assessment (EMA) and a small sample. To measure momentary experiential avoidance, this study devised a new method that involves capturing reductions in unwanted experiences after a behavior has occurred based on negative reinforcement characteristics. A daily life investigation on students (N = 25) indicated that although “a momentary experiential avoidance index” did not correlate with acceptance and commitment therapy or symptom related questionnaires, it could partially predict a decrease in “irritation” and an increase in “satisfaction” after a behavior that is measured separately from an unpleasant private experience preceding the behavior. Moreover, the momentary experiential avoidance index predicted a number of positive mood states only in a group with high global experiential avoidance defined by a self-report questionnaire. Although the momentary experiential avoidance index may measure one aspect of experiential avoidance, consistent results were not obtained. Thus, this preliminary investigation only suggests the potential of expanding the measurement framework and reveals issues that require further examination.
... The 30-min interaction session was based on the procedure by Kashdan et al. (2014). Participants completed a brief measure tapping anticipatory anxiety regarding the forthcoming interaction and were then paired with an opposite sex partner whom they did not previously know. ...
... to refer to a future interaction for the anticipatory measurement). Both items were rated using a 7-point Likert scale from 1 ϭ not at all, to 7 ϭ very much and were taken from Kashdan et al. (2014). We used a Hebrew version of these items in the present study, and double-back-translation was performed to avoid language bias. ...
Article
Individuals with social anxiety disorder (SAD) experience substantial impairment in close and intimate relationships. To enhance our understanding of this impairment and the way it develops, we examined dyadic opposite sex interactions of individuals with and without SAD. Participants were 160 individuals who formed 80 dyads including either 1 individual with SAD and another nonsocially anxious (NSA) individual (42 experimental dyads), or 2 NSA individuals (38 control dyads). We examined self- and partner-ratings of authenticity of both partners at 3 time points over the course of the 30-min interaction. Multilevel linear models indicated that individuals with SAD reported lower self-authenticity compared to NSA individuals (both compared to their interaction partners and compared to those from control dyads). In addition, increases in self-authenticity during the interaction were significantly lower for the experimental dyads compared to the control dyads. Specifically, both individuals with SAD and their NSA partners experienced lower increases in self-authenticity compared to NSA individuals from the control dyads. We also found that individuals with SAD rated their partners as less authentic compared to both their NSA interaction partners as well as NSA individuals from the control dyads. We discuss our findings in the context of cognitive and interpersonal models and suggest that authenticity may contribute to deleterious maintaining processes of SAD. Clinical implications of our findings are also discussed. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved).
... EA fluctuates from day-to-day (Shahar & Herr, 2011) and hour-to-hour (Levin et al., 2018;Wenze et al., 2018). These fluctuations have been shown to be meaningful in terms of predicting negative and positive affect (Hershenberg et al., 2017;Levin et al., 2018;Wenze et al., 2018), engagement in valued activities (Levin et al., 2018), and social anxiety (Kashdan et al., 2014). In addition, state fluctuations in EA have been shown to predict later changes in negative thinking, mood, and stress (Wenze, Gaugler, Sheets, & DeCicco, 2018) and later decreases in self-esteem and increases in paranoia (Udachina et al., 2009(Udachina et al., , 2014. ...
... A second set of models (see Table 4) examined whether between-subjects variability in negative affect (trait negative affect) moderated the association day-to-day to variability in EA with solitary drinking that evening. This was intended to model concepts derived from newer research suggesting EA tends to be most harmful when deployed inflexibly and frequently (e.g., Kashdan et al., 2014;Levin et al., 2018). In other words, it may be more fruitful to examine between subject, trait-like moderators to identify for whom EA is more or less problematic, rather than examining within subject, state-like variables to identify when EA is problematic for all individuals. ...
Article
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People who drink alcohol to cope with negative affect tend to drink more and experience more frequent negative alcohol-related consequences. Experiential avoidance-the tendency to avoid, suppress, or otherwise attempt to control unwanted inner experiences-is a largely pathological process that may help account for how negative affect is linked to increased alcohol consumption. However, research to-date has typically used global, trait-like measures, which limit our understanding of the conditions under which experiential avoidance is problematic. The current study tested both between-person (trait) and within-person (daily) variation in experiential avoidance and negative affect as predictors of solitary and social drinking in a sample of 206 adult drinkers who completed daily diaries for 21 days. Participants higher in trait experiential avoidance drank alone more often, whereas those higher in trait negative affect consumed greater quantities when drinking alone. Although daily fluctuations in experiential avoidance did not predict solitary drinking, there was a significant interaction between daily experiential avoidance and trait negative affect. For participants high in trait negative affect, greater experiential avoidance on a given day predicted consuming more when drinking alone. For participants low in trait negative affect, greater experiential avoidance on a given day predicted drinking alone more often, but consuming fewer drinks on these occasions. Experiential avoidance did not predict social drinking in any model. Overall, results suggest that a broader tendency to experience negative affect sets the context for experiential avoidance to be linked to more harmful patterns of drinking. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved).
... A large body of research on the phenomenology of SA also suggests that people with elevated SA tend to think, behave, and regulate their emotions in maladaptive ways across a range of social contexts (e.g., Clark and Wells, 1995;Kashdan et al., 2013;2014;Kim, 2005;Mellings and Alden, 2000;Pineles and Mineka, 2005;Wells et al., 1995). Why, then, would digital social contexts be any different? ...
... As such, those with elevated SA may experience higher positive and lower negative emotions during digital compared to face-to-face communication. b Other work indicates people with elevated SA exhibit emotional impairments and negative cognitive biases across a wide range of social and evaluative situations (e.g., Clark and Wells, 1995;Kashdan et al., 2013;2014;Kim, 2005;Mellings and Alden, 2000;Pineles and Mineka, 2005;Wells et al., 1995). This suggests that those with elevated SA may experience similar levels of positive and negative emotions regardless of whether they are communicating digitally or face-to-face. ...
... A large body of research on the phenomenology of SA also suggests that people with elevated SA tend to think, behave, and regulate their emotions in maladaptive ways across a range of social contexts (e.g., Kashdan et al., 2013;2014;Kim, 2005;Mellings & Alden, 2000;Pineles & Mineka, 2005;Wells et al., 1995). Why, then, would digital social contexts be any different? ...
... b. Other work indicates that people with elevated SA exhibit emotional impairments and negative cognitive biases across a wide range of social and evaluative situations (e.g., Kashdan et al., 2013;2014;Kim, 2005;Mellings & Alden, 2000;Pineles & Mineka, 2005;Wells et al., 1995). This suggests that those with elevated SA may experience similar levels of positive and negative emotions regardless of whether they are communicating digitally or faceto-face. ...
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Background:Retrospective studies have found that people with elevated social anxiety (SA) show a preference for digital/online communication, which may be due to perceptions of enhanced emotional safety. Whether these preferences for/benefits of digital compared to face-to-face communication manifest in the real world has yet to be explored. Methods: We recruited samples of college students (N = 125) and community adults (N = 303) with varying levels of SA, sampled their emotions during digital and face-to-face communication using ecological momentary assessment (EMA) (Study 1) and a day reconstruction method (DRM) (Study 2), and preregistered our hypotheses (https://osf.io/e4y7x/). Results: Results from both studies showed that SA did not predict the likelihood of engaging in digital compared to face-to-face communication, and SA was associated with less positive and more negative emotions regardless of communication medium. Study 2 also showed that whether digital communication was synchronous (e.g., in real time via phone/video chat) or asynchronous (e.g., texting/instant messaging) did not impact the association between SA and emotions. Limitations: EMA and DRM methods, despite their many advantages, may be suboptimal for assessing the occurrence of digital communication behaviors relative to more objective methods (e.g., passively collecting smartphone communication data). Using event-contingent responding may have also yielded more reports of digital communication, thus strengthening our power to detect small, cross-level interaction effects. Conclusions:These results challenge beliefs that digital/online communication provides a source of emotional safety for people with elevated SA and suggests a greater need to address SA-related emotional impairments across digital communication platforms.
... In PTSD, another related disorder historically included with anxiety disorders, avoidance of unwanted trauma memories is a core symptom that exemplifies EA. In addition to clear theoretical relationships between EA and a broad range of disorders, there is empirical support for EA contributing to depression (e.g., Cookson et al., 2020;Ruiz and Odriozola-González, 2015;Spinhoven et al., 2014), anxiety disorders (e.g., Bluett et al., 2014;Cookson et al., 2020;Kashdan et al., 2014;Spinhoven et al., 2014), OCRDs (e.g., Begotka et al., 2004;Bluett et al., 2014), and PTSD (Maack et al., 2012;Orcutt et al., 2020;Seligowski et al., 2015;Serrano-Ibáñez et al., 2021). ...
... The variability in effect sizes across measurement types, and the high correlations EA measures share with trait anxiety and distress measures, suggest serious concerns in whether EA is being measured as intended. A new wave of state EA measures (Kashdan et al., 2014) and contextualized EA measures (Kashdan et al., 2020) may lead to a more precise understanding of the impact of EA. Measuring and analyzing EA as a dynamic process and considering non-linear relationships between EA and psychopathology may also lead to new breakthroughs. ...
Article
Although numerous studies on experiential avoidance and its relationship to psychopathology have been conducted, systematic summaries of this research are lacking. The current systematic review and meta-analysis evaluated the transdiagnostic role of experiential avoidance across depression, anxiety and related disorders (obsessive-compulsive and related disorders [OCRDs] and post-traumatic stress disorder [PTSD]) as well as potential moderators of these relations. A total of 441 eligible studies including 135,347 participants (66.16% female, mean age = 31.53) and 899 effect-sizes were summarized. Results indicated a moderate-to-large association of experiential avoidance with anxiety (r = .506) and depressive symptoms (r = .562), major depressive disorder (r = .453), worry (r = .516), generalized anxiety disorder (r = .588), social anxiety disorder (r = .461), panic and agoraphobia (r = .340), specific phobias (r = .431), OCRDs (r = .406), and PTSD (r = .489). Anxiety sensitivity moderated the relationship of experiential avoidance to anxiety and depression. Moreover, depression moderated the relationship of experiential avoidance to generalized anxiety disorder and OCRDs. Correlations varied by mean experiential avoidance value, suggesting a potentially nonlinear relationship of experiential avoidance to psychological symptoms. Other potential moderators including type of population, type of measure, comorbidity, and clinical status were investigated. Results support the hypothesized role of experiential avoidance as a transdiagnostic and transcultural process relevant to depression, anxiety, OCRDs, and PTSD. However, experiential avoidance has largely been measured as a generalized trait; future research would be enhanced by measuring experiential avoidance as a dynamic and contextualized process.
... When measured concurrently with distress, EA appears to be highly related. The few longitudinal investigations suggest EA predicts symptoms from moment-to-moment (Kashdan et al., 2014) and over the course of years (Spinhoven, Van Hemert, & Penninx, 2017). Yet, when examined prospectively, EA's influence on anxiety appears to be a fraction of what cross-sectional findings suggest (Bardeen, Fergus, & Orcutt, 2014;Spinhoven et al., 2017). ...
Article
Experiential avoidance (EA), or the unwillingness to remain in contact with aversive thoughts, feelings, and sensations, has been implicated as a risk and maintenance factor of anxiety. Yet research is mixed on the extent to which EA contributes to symptom exacerbation. Cross-sectional studies suggest EA has a large influence on anxiety whereas longitudinal findings suggest EA predicts small increases in distress. Inversely related to EA and anxiety, meaning in life (MIL) entails making sense of and finding worth in one's experiences while also pursuing life aims. By facilitating a person's perceived management of distress, MIL is expected to prevent EA from making anxiety worse. Participants (n = 317) completed measures of EA, MIL, and anxiety at baseline and 3–4 months later. The influence of EA and the moderating effect of MIL on anxiety were examined cross-sectionally and longitudinally. Longitudinally, MIL changed the relationship between EA and changes in anxiety, such that when MIL was high, EA no longer predicted increased symptoms. Findings suggest that although EA is a vulnerability for anxiety, MIL buffers the small effect it has on later distress.
... Inverse associations between the PPFI and emotional disturbances support literature underscoring the importance of accepting and embracing distress and pursuing valued goals for psychological health (e.g., Cisler, Olatunji, Feldner, & Forsyth, 2010;Goodman, Larrazabal, West, & Kashdan, 2019). With social anxiety, for example, experiential avoidance has been shown to increase emotional suffering, worsen daily functioning, and lead to substance use to suppress discomfort (e.g., Buckner, Zvolensky, Farris, & Hogan, 2014;Cisler et al., 2010;Kashdan et al., 2013Kashdan et al., , 2014. While the total PPFI score as well as avoidance and acceptance subscale scores predicted less emotional disturbance concurrently and prospectively, the harnessing scale was largely unrelated to these outcomes. ...
Article
Psychological flexibility (PF), defined as the ability to pursue valued life aims despite the presence of distress, is a fundamental contributor to health (Kashdan & Rottenberg, 2010). Existing measures of PF have failed to consider the valued goals that give context for why people are willing to manage distress. Using 4 independent samples and 3 follow-up samples, we examined the role of PF in well-being, emotional experience and regulation, resilience, goal pursuit, and daily functioning. We describe the development and psychometric properties of the Personalized Psychological Flexibility Index (PPFI), which captures tendencies to avoid, accept, and harness discomfort during valued goal pursuit. Correlational, laboratory, and experience-sampling methods show that the PPFI measures a trait-like individual difference dimension that is related to a variety of well-being and healthy personality constructs. Unlike existing measures of PF, the PPFI was shown to be distinct from negative emotionality. Beyond trait measures, the PPFI is associated with effective daily goals and life strivings pursuit and adaptive emotional and regulatory responses to stressful life events. By adopting our measurement index, PF may be better integrated into mainstream theory and research on adaptive human functioning.
... Dysfunctional appraisals of risk/reward tradeoffs may contribute to the impairment exhibited by individuals with SA symptoms (Maner & Schmidt, 2006), and healthy participants similarly show altered risk preferences and related neural correlates when experiencing incidental anxiety (Cohn, Engelmann, Fehr, & Maréchal, 2015;Engelmann, Meyer, Fehr, & Ruff, 2015). Individuals high in SA are likely to overestimate the distress they will feel in social situations (Hofmann, 2007), which fuels the experiential avoidance central to models of SAD (Kashdan et al., 2014;Lorian & Grisham, 2010). This tendency to overestimate potential negative outcomes has been linked to deficits in decision-making, with socially anxious individuals exhibiting poorer goal-directed decision making in the context of anxiety-related stimuli (Pittig, Alpers, Niles, & Craske, 2015). ...
Article
Background and objectives: Although approaches combining behavioral genetics and neuroeconomics have advanced models of addiction, no study has synthesized these methods to elucidate mechanisms of competing risk-approachand risk-avoidance in social anxiety (SA). Grounded in dual-mode models of serotonergic systems and self-regulation, this study investigated associations between SA, serotonin transporter 5-HTT (LPR; rs25531) and receptor 5-HT1A genes, and risk-taking on behavioral and self-report measures. Design and methods: Young adults (N = 309) completed a neuroeconomic task measuring gambling attractiveness (δ), reward probability discrimination (γ), and risk attitudes (α). Risk genotypes included 5-HTT (LPR; rs25531) low-expression variants (SS/SLG/LGLG), and 5-HT1A (rs6295) GG. Results: Path analysis revealed that SA related to increased gambling attractiveness, but only for 5-HT1A risk groups. Although the 5-HTT (LPR; rs25531) risk genotypes and self-reported SA predicted lower social risk-taking, high-SA individuals who exhibited more accurate reward probability discrimination (γ) reported taking increased social risks. Conclusion: In line with dual-mode models, results suggest that SA predicts behavioral risk-approach at the basic decision-making level, along with self-reported social risk-avoidance, modulated by serotonergic genotypes. High-SA individuals with more accurate assessments of reward probabilities may engage in greater social risk-taking, perhaps reflecting an adaptive tendency to approach feared situations.
... Concernant les émotions positives, les personnes avec anxiété sociale ressentent moins fréquemment des émotions positives au cours de la journée en comparaison avec les personnes sans le trouble (Kashdan & Collins, 2010). Par ailleurs, les personnes avec anxiété sociale différencient moins les émotions ressenties que les personnes sans le trouble (Kashdan, Goodman, Machell, & Kleiman, 2014). ...
Thesis
Le vécu d’événements potentiellement traumatiques (EPT), surtout ceux avec violence interpersonnelle, est susceptible de générer des conséquences psychologiques graves à long terme telles que des difficultés de régulation émotionnelle. Plusieurs études suggèrent que la présence d’altérations dans la réactivité émotionnelle est un facteur de vulnérabilité important pour le développement du trouble stress post-traumatique (TSPT). Cependant, peu d’études ont abordé le sujet à travers des protocoles écologiques, c’est-à-dire en observant la réactivité émotionnelle en réponse à des événements réels quotidiens.L’objectif du présent projet est d’examiner les altérations dans la réactivité émotionnelle en vie quotidienne associées à l’exposition à un EPT, ainsi qu’au TSPT.Pour ce faire, le présent projet emploie un protocole ecological momentary assessment. Le projet est ancillaire à l’enquête World Mental Health- International College Survey, une initiative internationale de l’Organisation Mondiale de la Santé visant à évaluer les facteurs de risque et de protection impliqués dans la survenue de problèmes de santé mentale chez le jeune adulte.Les résultats révèlent des altérations dans la réactivité émotionnelle en vie quotidienne associées au diagnostic de TSPT, ainsi qu’à l’exposition à un EPT avec violence interpersonnelle.Ces résultats suggèrent que la dysrégulation émotionnelle est une caractéristique importante du TSPT, et que l’exposition à de la violence interpersonnelle a des conséquences émotionnelles à long terme indépendantes de l’émergence d’un trouble mental. Ces résultats dessinent de nouvelles perspectives de recherche sur les altérations émotionnelles produites par l’exposition à un événement traumatique.
... Finally, one might suggest that our results are influenced by interpersonal differences. For instance, it has been shown that experiential avoidance increases social anxiety in the closeness (vs non-closeness) condition (Kashdan et al., 2014), a factor that might have accounted for the non-significant effect of closeness manipulation in the present study. Nevertheless, the groups did not differ in terms of their IRI scores, such that empathy profiles of the participants cannot account for the non-significant effect of closeness manipulation. ...
Article
Previous research revealed inconsistent findings regarding affective responses when facing someone in pain (i.e., empathic concern and/or personal distress). In this paper, we suggest that the degree of closeness between the observer and the person in pain may account for these contradictory results, such that greater closeness towards this person leads to higher personal distress. To test this hypothesis, we induced either low or high closeness with a confederate in 69 randomly assigned participants. Following the closeness induction, participants evaluated their affective responses (empathic concern and personal distress) and rated the confederate's pain intensity after watching the confederate undergoing a painful cold pressure task. Results showed that, despite the non-significant effect of closeness induction, closeness across both conditions (low and high) was positively correlated with pain intensity rating, empathic concern and personal distress. This study thus suggests that closeness is associated with higher cognitive and affective responses to a person in pain.
... In a related fashion, socially anxious people often equate emotional expression, particularly emotions that are viewed as more vulnerable (sadness, shame, fear), as a sign of weakness, and therefore avoid these emotions, which often leads to problems with emotion labeling and differentiation, together with difficulties with emotion regulation. A large body of literature shows that SAD is associated with experiential avoidance [71], difficulties with emotion differentiation (e.g., the ability to describe one's emotions in detail) [72], poor emotion knowledge [73], and difficulties with emotion regulation [74]. ...
Article
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Social anxiety disorder (SAD) is a highly complex, chronic, disabling and costly anxiety disorder. Although cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is effective for many patients, many others do not respond to CBT or remain considerably symptomatic at the end of treatment. Pharmacological effects are also modest. More empirically-supported treatment options are needed in order to increase patient access to effective treatment. Emotion-focused therapy (EFT) shows great promise in treating SAD effectively and is particularly suitable for treating SAD because pervasive emotional avoidance, difficulties with emotional differentiation, and high levels of self-criticism, which are central psychopathological processes in SAD, are also primary therapeutic targets in EFT. EFT is based on the assumption that the most efficient way to change a maladaptive emotion is not through reason or skill learning, but through the activation of other, more adaptive emotions. EFT aims to access shame-based emotional memories that underlie SAD, and transform them by exposing them to new adaptive emotional experiences, such as empowering assertive anger, grief, and self-compassion. In this paper, the core features of EFT for SAD are presented, as well as the EFT view of dysfunction in SAD and EFT change processes. Research findings regarding the effectiveness of EFT for SAD are presented together with initial findings regarding mechanisms of change occurring during treatment.
... Consistent with the idea that engaging in experiential avoidance may disrupt the interpersonal model of intimacy, engaging in experiential avoidance has been shown to hinder the development of new relationships (Chawla & Ostafin, 2007) and the maintenance of existing relationships (Gross & John, 2003). When in a situation where there was an opportunity for individuals to engage in vulnerable disclosures, individuals reporting high levels of EA typically report higher social anxiety (Kashdan, Goodman, Machell, Kleiman, Monfort, Ciarrochi, & Nezlek, 2014). Further, individuals avoiding emotion are less likely to engage in emotional disclosures (Kahn & Garrison, 2009). ...
Article
The current cross-sectional study investigates the direct and indirect associations of engaging in experiential avoidance on the experience of psychopathology symptoms that are often associated with loneliness. The effects of engaging in experiential avoidance were hypothesized to associate with the experience of psychopathology symptoms through serial indirect effects via fear of intimacy, social support, and loneliness. A sample 202 students (84.4% Female, M age = 22.4, 71.3% White) completed an online questionnaire consisting of the Multidimensional Experiential Avoidance Questionnaire – 30, Fear of Intimacy Scale, Medical Outcomes Study Social Support Survey, UCLA Loneliness Inventory version 3, and the Symptom Check List 90 Revised. Findings suggest significant direct and indirect associations of engaging in experiential avoidance on the experience psychopathology symptoms. The investigated model accounted for nearly 40% of the variance (R2 = .3997) in Symptom Check List 90 Revised scores (p<.001). The findings of the current study suggest that modification of experiential avoidance behavior may result in reduced fear of intimacy, increased perceived social support, and decreases in the experience of loneliness and psychopathology symptoms. Results are discussed in relation to interventions anchored in the contextual behavioral sciences that past research has indicated may be effective at reducing experiential avoidance or fear of intimacy.
... Indeed, dominant theories of social anxiety posit that elevations in negative affect are associated with an increased use of both avoidance behaviors (Rapee and Heimberg 1997;Clark and Wells 1995). Empirical evidence from laboratory and experience sampling studies suggest that trait and state negative affect precede and predict the use of substance use Simons et al. 2005a;Cooper et al. 1995;Weiss et al. 2015) and social avoidance (Hayes et al. 1996;Clark and Wells 1995;Kashdan et al. 2014). The use of these behaviors, to down-regulate negative affect, provides short-term relief and thus reinforces the use of the behavior in the future. ...
Article
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Social anxiety is characterized by heightened fear and anxiety associated with social situations, resulting in the use of avoidance behaviors. Contemporary models suggest that some individuals with social anxiety may choose to completely avoid social situations, while others may seek social connections and interactions and utilize avoidance behaviors such as substance use as a means of distress tolerance, while engaging in these situations. Our aim is to test a theoretical model whereby extraversion could help to explain the heterogenous nature of social anxiety in relation to these behaviors. Lower levels of extraversion have been commonly associated with withdrawal behaviors and higher levels of extraversion have been associated with behaviors commonly enacted in social situations. Understanding factors which predict the use of one behavior over another is imperative to the conceptualization and successful treatment of patients with social anxiety. A sample of 195 college students completed self-report measures and a 10-day experience sampling diary with five diary signals each day. Participants were asked to rate their current negative emotions and behaviors during each diary signal. Using a multilevel modeling approach, we tested the association between social anxiety symptoms and negative affect predicting engagement in substance use or social avoidance and tested whether extraversion moderated this association. Negative affect was included as a covariate given the established associations between elevations in negative affect predicting both behaviors. Results indicated that higher levels of social anxiety symptoms and negative affectivity increased the probability of social avoidance and substance use, and extraversion was a significant predictor for only substance use. Moderation analysis indicated that extraversion moderated the relationship between social anxiety and substance use, suggesting a stronger positive relationship between substance use and social anxiety for individuals higher in extraversion. However, extraversion was not a significant moderator between social anxiety and social avoidance. Overall, the findings suggest that extraversion could be a key factor predicting the use of substances amongst individuals with social anxiety and may need further consideration in treatment.
... Further research examining moderators as well as mediators of the effect of mindfulness-based interventions on anxiety in clinical settings are needed. Specifically, future studies should examine state mindfulness (e.g., the Toronto Mindfulness Scale; Lau et al. 2006) and state distress intolerance (e.g., a measure similar to that in Kashdan et al. 2014) as a possible mechanism by which guided mindfulness interventions effect patient outcomes. This may help clarify the present study's findings. ...
Article
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Objectives This study examined trait mindfulness, spiritual well-being, and distress tolerance as moderators of the effect of a brief mindfulness intervention on anxiety reported during stereotactic breast biopsy (SBB).Methods This is a secondary analysis of an RCT examining guided meditation (GM; n = 30), focused breathing (FB; n = 30), or standard care (SC; n = 16) on anxiety for women undergoing SBB. Women in GM and FB were guided through their respective interventions for 10 min before and during biopsy. Anxiety (0–10 visual analogue scale), trait mindfulness (FFMQ), spiritual well-being (FACIT-SP), and discomfort intolerance (DI) were assessed at baseline, and anxiety was assessed every 4 min during SBB. Multilevel modeling examined moderator-by-group-by-time interactions. Significant 3-way interactions were decomposed using a median split.ResultsFFMQ observing, FFMQ describing, FACIT-SP meaning/peace, and DI moderated the group-by-time effects on anxiety during biopsy (p’s < 0.03). For those high in FFMQ describing, FACIT-SP-Meaning/Peace, or DI, GM was associated with a steeper reduction in anxiety compared to FB and SC (p’s < 0.05). For those low in FFMQ describing, FFMQ observing, and FACIT-SP-Meaning/Peace, both GM and FB were associated with a steeper reduction in anxiety compared to SC (p’s < 0.05).Conclusions Individuals high in mindful describing, high in the meaning/peace aspect of spiritual well-being, and high in distress intolerance may benefit most from GM. Individuals low in attentional aspects of mindfulness (i.e., describing and observing) and low in the meaning/peace aspect of spiritual well-being may benefit from either a GM or FB intervention.Trial Registration ClinicalTrial.org (NCT03023215)
... The revised Acceptance and Action Questionnaire (AAQ-2, Bond et al., 2011) has been widely employed to measure EA (e.g., Kashdan et al., 2014;Rochefort, Baldwin, & Chmielewski, 2018). Although the AAQ-2 has satisfactory internal reliability, some criticize its items' limited conceptual scope and poor discriminant validity from neuroticism and affect (Gámez et al., 2011;Rochefort et al., 2018;Vaughan-Johnston et al., 2017). ...
Article
Objective: Experiential avoidance (EA) represents an individual's avoidant responses towards their own internal experiences (e.g., thoughts and feelings). Recent research has raised concerns about EA's incremental validity over other individual difference variables. We argue that EA may be related to a greater focus on negative (relative to neutral) information, and that EA may have a unique predictive role when careful thought is encouraged. Method: In a series of three experiments, we examined EA's association with the endorsement of negative statements, relative to control statements, in the context of a negative mood induction. We subsequently measured participant's mood. In Experiment 3 we manipulated participant's motivation and ability to engage in careful thinking. Results: Across three studies, EA was related to greater endorsement of negative, but not neutral mood statements , which predicted lower mood. Further, this effect was most prominent under conditions of high-elaboration (i.e., when careful thinking was encouraged). Conclusions: We argue that EA may be related to a negativity bias (selectively endorsing negative but not neutral information), and that conditions that allow for careful thought may facilitate EA's relation to emotional reactions .
... changes in in-the-moment mood reports (Heiy & Cheavens, 2014); degree of positive emotions experienced each day, given the relative use of certain ER strategies the previous day (Farmer & Kashdan, 2014); severity of daily social anxiety symptoms endorsed as a function of daily ER strategy use ( Kashdan et al., 2014); and changes to positive and negative affect following an exam (Hou, Ng, & Wan, 2015). While each of the above measures presumably tap some facet of ER effectiveness, it is possible that these different approaches may lead to inconsistent conclusions about the relative effectiveness of a given strategy, making it difficult to integrate findings across studies that operationalize ER effectiveness differently. ...
Article
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Background: Effective emotion regulation (ER) is important to long-term healthy functioning, but little is known about what constitutes effective ER in the moment or how social anxiety symptoms and different strategies influence short-term effectiveness outcomes. Methods: Intensive ecological momentary data from N = 124 college students illustrate how different ways of operationalizing ER effectiveness leads to different conclusions about the short-term effectiveness of different strategies in daily life. Results: When effectiveness is operationalized as the degree to which participants judged that their ER attempts made them feel better, social anxiety severity was negatively associated with effectiveness, and avoidance-oriented strategies were judged to be less effective than engagement-oriented strategies. In contrast, when effectiveness is operationalized as the degree of change in self-reported affect following ER attempts, social anxiety severity was not related to effectiveness, and avoidance-oriented strategies were more effective than engagement-oriented strategies. Social anxiety and ER strategy type did not interact in either model, regardless of how effectiveness was measured. Conclusions: The study highlights discrepancies when examining two common but distinct ways of measuring the same overarching effectiveness construct, and raises intriguing questions about how forms of psychopathology that are intimately tied to emotion dysregulation, like social anxiety, moderate different ways of measuring the effectiveness of ER attempts.
... Although previous experience sampling studies have been valuable in understanding the experiences of socially anxious individuals, they typically assess daily, rather than momentary, ER strategy use and often focus on one or just a few ER strategies (e.g., Blalock et al. 2016;Kashdan et al. 2013Kashdan et al. , 2014. The present study used smartphone-delivered experience sampling to investigate how being in a social situation (i.e., being alone or with others), social desire (i.e., desire to be alone vs. with others), and trait social anxiety (self-reported at baseline) predict momentary use of up to eight ER strategies over 14 days in college students. ...
Article
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Socially anxious individuals typically select more avoidant emotion regulation (ER) strategies than non-anxious individuals, contributing to interpersonal difficulties. The present study utilized smartphone-delivered experience sampling over 14 days to assess how actual and desired social situations predicted reports of ER strategy use in 115 undergraduate students with varying levels of social anxiety symptoms. After controlling for multiple comparisons, results indicated that higher (vs. lower) baseline social anxiety symptoms predicted endorsing at least one of the available eight ER strategies relatively more often than reporting no strategy use, in the context of high negative affect. We did not find the hypothesized positive relationship between social anxiety symptoms and endorsements of avoidant- (e.g., expressive suppression) versus engagement-oriented (e.g., cognitive reappraisal) ER strategies in the context of high negative affect. However, state social desire interacted with trait social anxiety at high negative affect to predict the use of an ER strategy, although the simple effects analyses at high and low levels of social desire were not statistically reliable. Collectively, our results demonstrate the importance of considering both trait-level social anxiety symptoms and in-the-moment social context when studying ER strategy selection. The importance of assessing intrinsic motivational goals and beliefs in the context of ER strategy use is also discussed.
... For example, work by Pérez-Edgar and colleagues found that an attention bias to threat positively moderated the relation between BI and social withdrawal in both young childhood (Pérez-Edgar et al., 2011) and adolescence (Pérez-Edgar et al., 2010). However, not all studies have noted a strong relation between BI and attention patterns, and the directionality of attention (i.e., avoidance vs. vigilance) appears to shift with the specific task and context of testing Heuer et al., 2007;Kashdan et al., 2014;Weeks et al., 2013). ...
Article
Attentional biases to and away from threat are considered hallmarks of temperamental Behavioral Inhibition (BI), which is a documented risk factor for social anxiety disorder. However, most research on affective attentional biases has traditionally been constrained to computer screens, where stimuli often lack ecological validity. Moreover, prior research predominantly focuses on momentary presentations of stimuli, rather than examining how attention may change over the course of prolonged exposure to salient people and objects. Here, in a sample of children oversampled for BI, we used mobile eye-tracking to examine attention to an experimenter wearing a “scary” or novel gorilla mask, as well as attention to the experimenter after mask removal as a recovery from exposure. Conditional growth curve modeling was used to examine how level of BI related to attentional trajectories over the course of the exposure. We found a main effect of BI in the initial exposure to the mask, with a positive association between level of BI and proportion of gaze allocated to the stranger over time. Level of BI did not significantly influence the trajectory of attention over time during the recovery period when the mask was removed.
... Given that cognitive fusion has been described as an important underlying process in the development of adult anxiety symptoms (Bardeen & Fergus, 2016;Cookson et al., 2020;Herzberg et al., 2012), we hypothesized that cognitive fusion, by maintaining the excessive attachment to literal contents, might contribute to the unremitting negative effect of rumination on adolescent social anxiety. Second, experiential avoidance is positively correlated with social anxiety in adolescents (Kashdan et al., 2014;Papachristou et al., 2018;Shimoda et al., 2018). Rumination also has been conceptualized as an avoidance strategy (Martell et al., 2001) and is harmful when having avoidant functions (Giorgio et al., 2010). ...
Article
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Background and objectives: The potential mechanism by which rumination influences social anxiety through cognitive fusion and experiential avoidance proposed by the Acceptance and Commitment Therapy model has not been well-documented. This study, therefore, aimed to examine the sequential multiple mediation of the two processes. Design: A cross-sectional survey was conducted. Method: A total of 233 Chinese adolescents (42.06% girls) completed a set of printed self-report questionnaires measuring rumination, cognitive fusion, experiential avoidance, and social anxiety. The SPSS macro PROCESS (model 6) was used to test a sequential mediating model. A 95% confidence interval (CI) was calculated with 5000 bootstrapping re-samples. Results: Bootstrap analyses indicated that there were indirect effects of rumination on social anxiety mediated by cognitive fusion together with experiential avoidance (B = 0.098, BootSE = 0.032, CI = 0.045 to 0.170), or solely by experiential avoidance (B = 0.048, BootSE = 0.020, CI = 0.014 to 0.093). The mediation of cognitive fusion alone was not significant (B = 0.065, BootSE = 0.038, CI = -0.006 to 0.144). Conclusions: The results indicated the sequential mediating role of cognitive fusion and experiential avoidance, and the relative prominence of the latter in the association between rumination and social anxiety.
... People with social phobia interact more with family members [39] or partners [40] than those outside of their homes. Furthermore, the interactions of those with social anxiety may include fewer personal disclosure, with social anxiety symptoms relating to personal disclosures [41]. Consequently, those with social anxiety disorder have unfulfilled relatedness needs [42]. ...
Article
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Purpose of Review Anhedonia is a transdiagnostic symptom comprising reduced subjective reward or pleasure. Anhedonia influences subjective anticipation and in-the-moment experiences. This review draws together affective learning and engagement evidence for anhedonia affecting subjective experiences of social environments. Recent Findings While social engagement is diminished consistently, subjective appraisals of social contexts vary across different mental health disorders. Low positive affect during social experiences or stimuli is reported in PTSD, mood, schizophrenia, and anxiety disorders. Diminished neural reward networks underpin the anticipation of social experiences in ADHD, schizophrenia spectrum, and autistic spectrum disorders. Multiple theories exist to explain how anhedonia might interfere with social environments. Summary Anhedonia is a barrier to engagement, motivation, and enjoyment of social contexts. While many studies characterize experiences during social contexts, learning theories provide the most promise for developing targeted interventions.
... of the strategy being employed, stating, "even for 'avoidance' behaviors when taking part in artistic creative activities, there are no 'unhealthy' outcomes from the use of these [emotion regulation strategies]" (p. 22; see also Kashdan et al., 2014). Our findings support this statement to a certain extent, since participants completed the ERS-ACA questionnaire regarding the ACA they had identified as being the most effective at making them "feel better." ...
Article
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During the COVID-19 pandemic some Australians turned to artistic creative activities (ACAs) as a way of managing their own mental health and well-being. This study examined the role of ACAs in regulating emotion and supporting mental health and well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic, and also attempted to identify at-risk populations. We proposed that (1) participants would use ACAs as avoidance-based emotion regulation strategies; and (2) music engagement would be used for emotion regulation. Australian participants (N = 653) recruited from the general public completed an online survey, which included scales targeting anxiety (GAD7 scale), depression (PHQ9 scale) and loneliness (two UCLA Loneliness Scales, referring to “Before” and “Since” COVID-19). Participants reported which ACAs they had undertaken and ceased during the pandemic using an established list and ranked their undertaken ACAs in terms of effectiveness at making them “feel better.” For their top-ranked ACA, participants then completed the Emotion Regulation Scale for Artistic Creative Activities (ERS-ACA), and if participants had undertaken any musical ACAs, also the Musical Engagement Questionnaire (MusEQ). The results supported both hypotheses. ANOVAs indicated that participants ranked significantly higher on the “avoidance” ERS-ACA subscale than the other subscales, and that participants ranked significantly higher on the emotion regulation and musical preference MusEQ subscales than the other subscales. Additionally, while ACAs such as “Watching films or TV shows” and “Cookery or baking” were common, they ranked poorly as effective methods of emotion regulation, whereas “Listening to music” was the second-most frequently undertaken ACA and also the most effective. “Singing” and “Dancing” were among the most ceased ACAs but also ranked among the most effective for emotion regulation, suggesting that support for developing pandemic-safe approaches to these ACAs may provide well-being benefits in future crises. Additionally, correlation analyses showed that younger participants, those who took less exercise during the pandemic, and those with the highest musical engagement reported the poorest well-being. We conclude that ACAs provided an important resource for supporting mental health and well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia and could potentially support mental health and well-being in future crises.
... To avoid unfavorable social outcomes, they devote considerable energy to managing their emotions, characterized by overreliance on avoidance and infrequent use of alternative strategies (Kashdan et al., 2011). People with SAD place high value on controlling their emotions, in part because they fear they offer additional opportunities for rejection, opting to avoid uncomfortable feelings and constrain emotional expression Kashdan et al., 2014). Therefore, regulatory patterns of people with SAD have been described as "inflexible" and "rigid", characterized by persistent avoidance Kashdan et al., 2011). ...
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Background Emotion regulation flexibility is a person's tendency to shift their use of emotion regulation strategies in response to contextual demands. A lack of flexibility is thought to underlie affective disorders, yet conceptualizations of “flexibility” vary widely, and few studies have empirically assessed flexibility. In this study, we outline methods for measuring emotion regulation flexibility and then examine evidence for inflexibility in people with a common affective disorder: social anxiety disorder (SAD). Methods Participants were community adults diagnosed with SAD and a psychologically healthycontrol group who completed a 14-day experience-sampling study. Participants recorded their most anxiety-provoking event each day, how they evaluated contextual demands (i.e., perceived controllability, emotional intensity) of these events, and their use of seven emotion regulation strategies to manage anxiety. Hypotheses and analyses were preregistered with the Open Science Framework (https://osf.io/s7kqj/). Results Participants with SAD demonstrated some evidence of inflexibility. They used three disengagement strategies (rumination, thought suppression, expressive suppression) more often than controls and did so independently of contextual demands (specifically, perceived controllability). Nonetheless, participants with SAD largely demonstrated similar regulatory patterns as controls, most notably in their use of engagement strategies (acceptance, cognitive, reappraisal, problem-solving). Limitations We measured two of many possible contextual demands, did not compare to a mixed clinical group or other affective disorders (e.g., depression), and did not assess temporal sequences of strategy use. Conclusions People with SAD demonstrate some inflexibility in their use of disengagement regulation strategies.
... Moreover, the DSM-5 avoidance criterion for SAD includes avoidance of social situations or enduring them with intense fear/anxiety (APA, 2013). People with SAD often engage in internal avoidance behaviors in the context of social interactions (Goodman & Larrazabal, 2019;Kashdan, Goodman et al., 2014). The likelihood that someone with SAD does not avoid entering social situations is very low, but this criterion does broaden the ways in which someone with SAD can try to avoid social scrutiny. ...
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Quality contact with other people serves as a reliable mood enhancement strategy. We wondered if the emotional benefits of socializing are present even for those with a psychological disorder defined by social distress and avoidance: social anxiety disorder (SAD). We conducted two ecological momentary assessment (EMA) studies and analyzed 7,243 total surveys. In both studies, community adults diagnosed with SAD and healthy controls received five surveys each day for two weeks. Consistent with research on positivity deficits in SAD, between-person analyses in both studies suggest that, on average, participants with SAD reported lower positive and higher negative affect in social and non-social situations than healthy controls. Within-person analyses, however, revealed that in both studies participants with SAD and healthy controls reported higher positive affect when with others than when alone; no differences were found for negative affect. The difference in positive affect between social and nonsocial situations was smaller for participants with SAD in Study 1, suggesting that people with SAD may experience diminished reward responding when socializing. Our results suggest that even those with a mental illness defined by interpersonal distress can and do derive positive emotions from social interactions.
... Moreover, when identifying such factors, assessing elevated EA and targeting this construct via intervention programming may be a useful strategy to improve psychological adjustment related to COVID-19. EA is a mechanism malleable to intervention (Kashdan et al., 2014). Therefore, employing evidenced-based strategies such as Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT; Hayes et al., 2011) to offset COVID-19 mental health concerns by reducing EA among Latinx adults may be an important strategy for those experiencing prolonged adjustment problems related to the pandemic. ...
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Background The outbreak of the novel 2019 SARS2-Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has led to substantial psychological distress across the United States and the world. However, emerging work suggests that prominent COVID-19 consequences such as fear of COVID-19 infection and emotional distress resulting from economic adversity and social distancing may afflict the Latinx population disproportionately. The current study sought to investigate the influence of experiential avoidance (EA), or an individual’s tendency to rigidly avoid negative internal experiences (i.e. feelings, thoughts, etc.), on the severity of COVID-19 fear and emotional distress symptoms due to economic adversity and social distancing.Method Participants included 188 Latinx persons recruited via an online survey panel program.ResultsResults indicated that EA was a statistically significant contributing factor to fear of COVID-19 and emotional distress associated with economic adversity and social distancing. These effects were evident over and above the variance accounted for by gender, years living in the United States, education, and COVID-19 related work and home life stress.Conclusions Overall, the present work is the first to document empirically EA as it relates to fear of COVID-19 infection and related emotional distress resulting from economic adversity and social distancing among Latinx persons.
... Thus, in addition to conducting ongoing work at the trait level, researchers should also measure ACT processes as momentary states in relevant contexts (see Hayes et al., 2021). Kashdan et al. (2014) provided an excellent example of using a contextual approach to assess experiential avoidance. Finally, measures would benefit from being tailored to reflect the specific conceptual issues involved in measuring each ACT process, as Barney and colleagues (2019) recently provided for the measurement of the "valuing process" in ACT. ...
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Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) emphasizes a focus on theory-driven processes and mediating variables, a laudable approach. The implementation of this approach would be advanced by addressing five challenges, including: 1) distinguishing ACT processes in measurement contexts; 2) developing and rigorously validating measures of ACT processes; 3) the earlier wide use of psychometrically weaker ACT process measures and the more limited use of stronger measures; 4) the inconsistency of evidence that ACT processes are sensitive or specific to ACT or mediate ACT outcomes specifically; 5) improving statistical power and transparency. Drawing on the existing literature, we characterize and provide evidence for each of these challenges. We then offer detailed recommendations for how to address each challenge in ongoing and future work. Given ACT’s core focus on theorized processes, improving the measurement and evaluation of these processes would significantly advance the field’s understanding of ACT.
... Hence, they refrain from countering their anxiety and as a result they experience farther frustration and despair due the absence of experience in acquiring social skills (Muris & Ollendick, 2015). Finally, avoidant individuals according to many studies usually shy away from asking for help (Schneier et al., 2011;Kashdan et al., 2014) and seek social relations only when they are certain that the other person likes them. ...
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This study examines a mother's parenting style and in particular her neglect of her child as risk factors for the development of avoidant personality disorders among Israeli school children aged 11-12. The findings of this study are based on qualitative, comparative research where two groups, each comprised of five Israeli mothers of children in the same age range and from the same school, were thoroughly interviewed about their parenting style. One group comprised mothers of regular children and the other of children who suffer from avoidant personality disorder. The findings of this research lead to the conclusion that parental neglect constitutes a significant factor contributing to the development of the avoidant personality disorder.
... Likewise, anxiety, a construct highly related to perceived stress, predicts fewer friendships (Scharfstein et al., 2011) and perceived social support (Jacobson & Newman, 2016), both of which likely have implications for one's amount of social interaction. Social anxiety in particular is associated with social withdrawal (Beidel et al., 1999;Kashdan et al., 2014) and, based on self-report evidence, less frequent socializing with peers (Faytout & Swendsen, 2009). These findings are consistent with the idea that stress may compromise social connection broadly speaking. ...
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... Third, although we demonstrate an overall relationship between higher linguistic distance and reduced symptoms, it is possible that distancing is not always an adaptive strategy. Indeed, substantial data show that "experiential avoidance" (i.e., pushing away internal or external stressors; ostensibly increasing distance) is maladaptive, whereas mindfully attending to the present moment (ostensibly decreasing distance) is adaptive (49)(50)(51)(52). Similarly, depression and anxiety are stereotypically seen as disorders in which people are overly focused on past losses or future threats, respectively. ...
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Significance Using language to “distance” ourselves from distressing situations (i.e., by talking less about ourselves and the present moment) can help us manage emotions. Here, we translate this basic research to discover that such “linguistic distancing” is a replicable measure of mental health in a large set of therapy transcripts ( N = 6,229). Additionally, clustering techniques showed that language alone could identify participants who differed on both symptom severity and treatment outcomes. These findings lay the foundation for 1) tools that can rapidly identify people in need of psychological services based on language alone and 2) linguistic interventions that can improve mental health.
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Attention biases to threat are considered part of the etiology of anxiety disorders. Attention bias variability (ABV) quantifies intraindividual fluctuations in attention biases and may better capture the relation between attention biases and psychopathology risk versus mean levels of attention bias. ABV to threat has been associated with attentional control and emotion regulation, which may impact how caregivers interact with their child. In a relatively diverse sample of infants (50% White, 50.7% female), we asked how caregiver ABV to threat related to trajectories of infant negative affect across the first 2 years of life. Families were part of a multi-site longitudinal study, and data were collected from 4 to 24 months of age. Multilevel modeling examined the effect of average caregiver attention biases on changes in negative affect. We found a significant interaction between infant age and caregiver ABV to threat. Probing this interaction revealed that infants of caregivers with high ABV showed decreases in negative affect over time, while infants of caregivers with low-to-average ABV showed potentiated increases in negative affect. We discuss how both high and extreme patterns of ABV may relate to deviations in developmental trajectories.
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This study investigated the predictive roles of experiential avoidance on the relationship between death anxiety and health-related quality of life among diabetic patients. A total of one hundred and five (105) participants (62; 58.5% females) participated in the study. The participant ages ranged from 21-75 years with a mean age of 53.45 and a standard deviation of 14.44. Participants were drawn using the convenience sampling technique and were administered the questionnaires before their consultations. Three instruments were used in data collation namely; the Death Anxiety Inventory-Revised (DAI-R), the Acceptance and Action Questionnaire (AAQ), and the Diabetes Quality of Life Questionnaire (DQOLQ). Four hypotheses were tested and the results showed that there was no significant correlation between death anxiety and HRQoL (r=-.036), also, experiential avoidance didn’t significantly predict HRQoL (.411, p<.05), experiential avoidance didn’t significantly predict death anxiety (.534, p<.05), while experiential avoidance didn’t predict the relationship between death anxiety and HRQoL (.757, p<.05). The researchers suggest that medical professionals in charge of diabetic patients should look beyond HRQoL and death anxiety in investigating whether there will be an occurrence of experiential avoidance.
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Social avoidance in the concept of “avoidance of corrective emotional experience” is regarded as one of the pathogenetic factors that aff ect the course and development of mental disorders and increase distress. We conducted a review of studies that studied the role of social avoidance in social anxiety disorder among individuals with or without post-traumatic experience. Inclusion criteria were: 1) subjects were diagnosed with social anxiety disorder; 2) social anxiety disorder and/or post-traumatic stress was a focus of the study; 3) some assessment or review impact of social avoidance was made; 4) subjects were adolescents or adults. The study of the role of avoiding social events as a traumatic trigger and related socially signifi cant factors (stigma, discrimination, living at constant risk, etc.) indicates a correlation between the pathogenesis of social phobia and comorbid symptoms of post-traumatic distress. Managing social avoidance strategies and accepting the conscious experience of social interaction presupposes a person’s readiness to react fl exibly, stay in contact with their emotions and thoughts, and not spend internal resources to get rid of the inner concerns. In our opinion, this will help reduce the perception of social events as a traumatic (retraumatic) factor, reduce clinically signifi cant manifestations of social anxiety and prevent the development of post-traumatic distress. Limitations and implications of these fi ndings for the psychological support and modifying psychotherapeutic interventions of social anxiety disorder are discussed.
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Social anxiety disorder (SAD) is a common psychological disorder associated with broad interpersonal impairment. Most previous studies have examined nonverbal behavior in SAD using human coders. However, one recent study utilized a machine-based analysis of nonverbal behavior and dyadic synchrony in SAD (Asher, Kauffmann, & Aderka, 2020). In the present study, we compared human and computer assessments of nonverbal behavior in social anxiety to enhance our knowledge about their commonalities and unique differences in capturing nonverbal behavior in the context of SAD. Specifically, the present study included 152 individuals: 38 individuals diagnosed with SAD and 114 individuals without SAD. Participants formed 76 opposite-sex interaction dyads comprising either two individuals without SAD (n = 39 control dyads) or one individual with SAD and one individual without SAD (n = 37 SAD dyads). All participants underwent a getting-acquainted task and were videotaped during the conversation. Half of the interactions were small talk interactions and half were closeness-generating interactions that required significant self-disclosure. We found that both types of coding were associated with self-reported social anxiety but that machine-based coding was superior in capturing social anxiety in closeness-generating contexts. Implications for research on nonverbal behavior in SAD are discussed.
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To better understand how social anxiety develops, it is crucial to identify mechanisms that influence anxiety following social stressors. Anxiety sensitivity social concerns (ASSC; fear of publicly observable anxiety symptoms) and fear of negative evaluation (FNE; distress arising from concerns about negative judgment) are constructs that amplify anxiety following social stressors. However, it is unclear how ASSC and FNE influence acute anxiety following stressors in naturalistic settings. In the current study, the impact of ASSC and FNE on anxious arousal and anxious apprehension following stressors was examined in community adults (N = 83; M age = 29.66 years, SD = 12.49, 59.0% female) who completed questionnaires five times per day for two-weeks. Dynamic structural equation modeling was used to examine predictors of overall levels of anxiety as well as anxiety following social and nonsocial stressors. ASSC interacted with the presence of social stressors, such that ASSC positively predicted anxious arousal following social stressors. FNE interacted with the presence of nonsocial stressors to predict both forms of anxiety, such that FNE positively predicted anxiety following nonsocial stressors. These findings suggest ASSC may specifically amplify anxious arousal following social stressors, whereas FNE may broadly amplify anxiety following nonsocial stressors.
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Background: The use of mindfulness in the treatment of anxiety and depression is becoming more and more widespread, but there are few reports that it has fundamentally changed patients' sense of life. Case Presentation: This report showed 9 year’s progress of treatment for Social Anxiety Disorder and Persistent Depressive Disorder in a 41year-old female patient experiencing a long-term painful married life with a carefree husband and controlling mother-in-law. During the past 25 months, she received 180 sessions of mindfulness training, resulting in complete remission of the anxiety and depression symptoms. After the 30th session she experienced an episode of the catharsis during the mindfulness training and experienced what can be called Mindfulness-To-Meaning, which is characterized by durable eudaimonic well-being in the face of adversity. Discussion and Conclutions: The psychological mechanisms that supported arriving at Mindfulness-To-Meaning were delineated as: Heightened (1) awareness which promoted (2) verbalization of the primary theme of suppression, in which the stress was (3) appraised metacognitively. Then (4) decentering permitted integrating this painful theme into a new adaptive self and world view, which resulted in (5) emotional catharsis, or release. Furthermore (6) positive appraisal of this experience enhanced awareness and led to the experience of (7) Mindfulness-To-Meaning .
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Technology-delivered interventions have the potential to help address the treatment gap in mental healthcare but are plagued by high attrition. Adding coaching, or minimal contact with a non-specialist provider, may encourage engagement and decrease dropout, while remaining scalable. Coaching has been studied in interventions for various mental health conditions but has not yet been tested with anxious samples. This study describes the development of and reactions to a low-intensity coaching protocol administered to N=282 anxious adults identified as high risk to drop out of a web-based cognitive bias modification for interpretation intervention. Undergraduate research assistants were trained as coaches and communicated with participants via phone calls and synchronous text messaging. About half of the sample never responded to coaches’ attempts to schedule an initial phone call or did not answer the call, though about 30% completed the full intervention with their coach. Some anxious adults may choose technology-delivered interventions specifically for their lack of human contact and may fear talking to strangers on the phone; future recommendations include taking a more intensive user-centered design approach to creating and implementing a coaching protocol, allowing coaching support to be optional, and providing users with more information about how and why the intervention works.
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This study examines relationships between emotion beliefs and emotion regulation strategy use among people with social anxiety disorder (SAD) and a psychologically healthy control group. Using experience-sampling methodology, we tested group differences in 2 types of emotion beliefs (emotion control values and emotion malleability beliefs) and whether emotion beliefs predicted trait and daily use of cognitive reappraisal and emotion suppression. People with SAD endorsed higher emotion control values and lower emotion malleability beliefs than did healthy controls. Across groups, emotion control values were positively associated with suppression (but unrelated to reappraisal), and emotion malleability beliefs were negatively associated with suppression and positively associated with reappraisal. We also addressed 2 exploratory questions related to measurement. First, we examined whether trait and state measures of emotion regulation strategies were related to emotion control values in different ways and found similar associations across measures. Second, we examined whether explicit and implicit measures of emotion control values were related to daily emotion regulation strategy use in different ways-and found that an implicit measure was unrelated to strategy use. Results are discussed in the context of growing research on metaemotions and the measurement of complex features of emotion regulation. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved).
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Previous studies have found that social anxiety and experiential avoidance (EA) are significantly associated, but the directionality of this relationship has not been firmly established. The present study examined momentary EA and social anxiety using repeated measurements during an opposite-sex interaction. Participants were 164 individuals (50% female): 42 were diagnosed with social anxiety disorder (SAD) and the remaining 122 were non-socially-anxious individuals (NSAs). Participants formed 42 experimental dyads including one individual with SAD and one NSA individual, and 40 control dyads including 2 NSA individuals. Lower level mediational modeling indicated that for individuals with SAD, a reciprocal relationship was observed in which changes in both EA and social anxiety mediated changes in each other. However, changes in EA explained approximately 89% of changes in social anxiety whereas changes in social anxiety explained approximately 52% of changes in EA throughout the interaction. For NSA individuals, only social anxiety predicted EA. These findings point to a deleterious cycle driven mostly by EA among individuals with SAD, but not NSA individuals. Findings are discussed within the context of previous empirical findings as well as acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) and cognitive-behavioral models of psychopathology.
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Widely-used, empirically-supported treatments focus on reducing experiential avoidance (EA) as a mechanism of social anxiety disorder (SAD) symptom change. However, little is known about how EA and SAD symptoms bidirectionally interrelate from session to session, or throughout the course of an intervention—a gap that raises significant theoretical and clinical questions about the mechanistic role of EA. Participants ( N = 78) with elevated EA and SAD symptoms completed a 3-session pilot intervention (Approach-Avoidance Task training plus psychoeducation) designed to target EA. Bivariate latent change score modeling was then used to map the bidirectional, temporal interrelationships between EA and SAD symptoms from session to session. Analyses accounted for the overall trajectory of change in both variables (i.e., EA and SAD) and both variables’ preceding measurement. Findings suggested that changes in SAD symptoms preceded and predicted changes in EA from session to session. Contrary to hypotheses, this effect was not bidirectional, as changes in EA did not precede and predict changes in SAD symptoms from session to session. The use of a relatively small analogue sample limit the external validity of the present findings. Nevertheless, these novel findings advance our understanding of the dynamic interrelationships between EA and SAD symptoms throughout treatment. Moreover, given that many leading treatments target EA, this study highlights a need for future work to continue evaluating whether EA is indeed a mechanism of SAD symptom change.
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The temperament profile Behavioral Inhibition (BI) is a strong predictor of internalizing behavior in childhood. Patterns of attention towards or away from threat are a commonality of both BI and internalizing behaviors. Attention biases are traditionally measured with computer tasks presenting affective stimuli, which can lack ecological validity. Recent studies suggest that naturalistic visual attention need not mirror findings from computer tasks, and, more specifically, children high in BI may attend less to threats in naturalistic tasks. Here, we characterized latent trajectories of naturalistic visual attention over time to a female stranger, measured with mobile eye tracking, among kindergarteners oversampled for BI. Group-based trajectory modeling (GBTM) revealed two latent trajectories: 1) high initial orienting to the stranger, gradual decay, and recovery, and 2) low initial orienting and continued avoidance. Higher probability of membership to the “avoidant” group was linked to greater report of internalizing behaviors. We demonstrate the efficacy of mobile eye tracking in quantifying naturalistic patterns of visual attention to social novelty, as well as the importance of naturalistic measures of attention in characterizing socioemotional risk factors.
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Syndromal classification is a well-developed diagnostic system but has failed to deliver on its promise of the identification of functional pathological processes. Functional analysis is tightly connected to treatment but has failed to develop testable, replicable classification systems. Functional diagnostic dimensions are suggested as a way to develop the functional classification approach, and experiential avoidance is described as 1 such dimension. A wide range of research is reviewed showing that many forms of psychopathology can be conceptualized as unhealthy efforts to escape and avoid emotions, thoughts, memories, and other private experiences. It is argued that experiential avoidance, as a functional diagnostic dimension, has the potential to integrate the efforts and findings of researchers from a wide variety of theoretical paradigms, research interests, and clinical domains and to lead to testable new approaches to the analysis and treatment of behavioral disorders. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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The construct of emotion regulation has been increasingly investigated in the last decade, and this work has important implications for advancing anxiety disorder theory. This paper reviews research demonstrating that: 1) emotion (i.e., fear and anxiety) and emotion regulation are distinct, non-redundant, constructs that can be differentiated at the conceptual, behavioral, and neural levels of analysis; 2) emotion regulation can augment or diminish fear, depending on the emotion regulation strategy employed; and 3) measures of emotion regulation explain incremental variance in anxiety disorder symptoms above and beyond the variance explained by measures of emotional reactivity. The authors propose a model by which emotion regulation may function in the etiology of anxiety disorders. The paper concludes with suggestions for future research.
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