Literature Review

Whether, how, and when social anxiety shapes positive experiences and events: A self-regulatory framework and treatment implications

Article· Literature ReviewinClinical psychology review 31(5):786-99 · July 2011with 191 Reads 
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  • ... Findings from self-report and experimental research suggest that people with anxiety disorders experience considerable difficulty tolerating uncomfortable internal sensations, thoughts, or feelings and, in response, exert considerable effort to avoid them (for reviews, see Chawla & Ostafin, 2007;Goodman, Larrazabal, West, & Kashdan, in press;Kashdan, Barrios, Forsyth, & Steger, 2006). The energy invested into trying to avoid anxiety puts people with anxiety disorders into prevention mode, whereby avoiding threat takes precedence over pursuing important goals and seeking rewards (Kashdan, Weeks, & Savostyanova, 2011;Roemer & Orsillo, 2002). ...
    ... Strivings may contain content related to emotion regulation, which involves any attempts to monitor, manage, and/or change the experience or expression of emotion. Theorists have proposed that emotion dysregulation is central to the development and maintenance of SAD (Kashdan et al., 2011;Turk, Heimberg, Luterek, Mennin, & Fresco, 2005). In fact, frequency of experiential avoidance is one of only two characteristics (the other being low positive affect) that differentiate people with SAD from healthy adults . ...
    ... Thus, they are likely to underestimate how successful they were at achieving a goal, regardless of their objective achievement. This cycle maintains social anxiety and leads to perceptions of poor social performance, which induces exhaustive avoidance efforts that limit reward-seeking behavior and reduce positive experiences (Kashdan & Collins, 2010;Kashdan et al., 2011). Subjective appraisals do not always relate to other, objective measures of skilled performance (Hopko, McNeil, Zvolensky, & Eifert, 2001). ...
    Article
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    People with anxiety disorders tend to make decisions on the basis of avoiding threat rather than obtaining rewards. Despite a robust literature examining approach-avoidance motivation, less is known about goal pursuit. The present study examined the content, motives, consequences, and daily correlates of strivings among adults diagnosed with social anxiety disorder and healthy controls. Participants generated six strivings along with the motives and consequences of their pursuit. Compared with controls, people with social anxiety disorder were less strongly driven by autonomous motives and reported greater difficulty pursuing strivings. Coders analyzed strivings for the presence of 10 themes: achievement, affiliation, avoidance, emotion regulation, generativity, interpersonal, intimacy, power, self-presentation, and self-sufficiency. People with social anxiety disorder constructed more emotion regulation strivings than did controls, but they did not differ across other themes. This research illustrates how studying personality at different levels of analysis (traits, strivings) can yield novel information for understanding anxiety disorders.
  • ... Our article focuses on smiles. This follows a recent theoretical shift in the social anxiety literature towards interest in responses to positive facial expressions (for review, see Kashdan, Weeks, & Savostyanova, 2011), rather than only the traditional interest in negative emotions (Staugaard, 2010). The general theoretical idea is that socially anxious individuals fear they will be subjected to social evaluation and potential negative repercussions even when the social context initially appears positive (e.g. they approach someone who is smiling at them; Kashdan et al., 2011;Weeks & Howell, 2012). ...
    ... This follows a recent theoretical shift in the social anxiety literature towards interest in responses to positive facial expressions (for review, see Kashdan, Weeks, & Savostyanova, 2011), rather than only the traditional interest in negative emotions (Staugaard, 2010). The general theoretical idea is that socially anxious individuals fear they will be subjected to social evaluation and potential negative repercussions even when the social context initially appears positive (e.g. they approach someone who is smiling at them; Kashdan et al., 2011;Weeks & Howell, 2012). Someone who is socially anxious might, for example, worry that they will be unable to meet the social expectations of someone who wishes to engage in a friendly conversation with them (Alden & Wallace, 1995). ...
    ... However, recent theorising argues socially anxious individuals are often also concerned about people evaluating them positively, not just negatively (e.g. Kashdan et al., 2011;Weeks, Jakatdar, & Heimberg, 2010). Theoretically, fear of positive evaluation arises from concerns about social reprisal (Weeks & Howell, 2012). ...
    Article
    We investigate perception of, and responses to, facial expression authenticity for the first time in social anxiety, testing genuine and polite smiles. Experiment 1 (N = 141) found perception of smile authenticity was unaffected, but that approach ratings, which are known to be reduced in social anxiety for happy faces, are more strongly reduced for genuine than polite smiles. Moreover, we found an independent contribution of social anxiety to approach ratings, over and above general negative affect (state/trait anxiety, depression), only for genuine smiles, and not for polite ones. We argue this pattern of results can be explained by genuine smilers signalling greater potential for interaction – and thus greater potential for the scrutiny that is feared in social anxiety – than polite smiles. Experiment 2 established that, relative to polite smilers, genuine smilers are indeed perceived as friendlier and likely to want to talk for longer if approached. Critically, the degree to which individual face items were perceived as wanting to interact correlated strongly with the amount that social anxiety reduced willingness to approach in Experiment 1. We conclude it is the potential for social evaluation and scrutiny signalled by happy expressions, rather than their positive valence, that is important in social anxiety.
  • ... Cognitive behavioral models posit that fear of negative evaluation is the hallmark feature of social anxiety symptomatology that results in heightened experiences of negative affect and interpersonal difficulties [2]. However, a growing body of research has identified disruptions in positive affect among socially anxious individuals [3]. Research shows that socially anxious adults use regulatory strategies that decrease the experiences of positive affect [3], though there is a notable absence of studies with adolescents. ...
    ... However, a growing body of research has identified disruptions in positive affect among socially anxious individuals [3]. Research shows that socially anxious adults use regulatory strategies that decrease the experiences of positive affect [3], though there is a notable absence of studies with adolescents. In addition, studies have relied upon self-reported measures when assessing the relation of social anxiety symptoms to positive affect regulation, preventing a comprehensive assessment of this association (though see [4]). ...
    ... Past research highlights deficits in the experience and regulation of positive affect among adults with social anxiety symptomatology [3]. In adolescence, social anxiety symptomatology [11] and social anxiety disorder [11,12] are associated with lower levels of experiencing positive affect. ...
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    Full-text available
    Social anxiety symptomatology is associated with disruptions in positive affect, though no study has examined deficits in responses to positive affect related to adolescent social anxiety symptoms. The present study tested whether adolescents’ self-reported and observed social anxiety symptoms were uniquely associated with specific responses to positive affect. Moreover, we examined whether adolescent gender moderated these relations. Ninety adolescents (ages 11 to 18, Mage = 14.26, SD = 2.03; girls = 62%; white = 79%) completed self-report measures, participated in a social stressor task, and engaged in two positively-valenced interaction tasks with their female caregivers. Adolescent self-reported social anxiety symptoms were not uniquely associated with responses to positive affect. However, observed social anxiety symptoms were uniquely related to greater self-reported inhibiting positive affect responses and fewer observed positive affect maximizing behaviors. These findings highlight the need to examine self-reported and observed social anxiety symptoms in understanding associated disruptions in positive affect regulation.
  • ... Those who suffer from SAD are characterized by an intense, persistent fear of having perceived flaws exposed in social situations, leading to negative evaluations, and ultimately, rejection (Clark & Wells, 1995;Heimberg, Brozovich, & Rapee, 2010;Morrison & Heimberg, 2013;Moscovitch, 2009). This intense and persistent fear fosters constant self-focused and self-critical attention (Rapee & Heimberg, 1997;Spurr & Stopa, 2002), and constant threat-focused attention (Mogg, Philippot, & Bradley, 2004) that impairs these individuals' ability to attend to rewarding social experiences (Kashdan, Weeks, & Savostyanova, 2011). ...
    ... Generally diminished flow: experiential avoidance An unwillingness to tolerate anxiety in SAD also leads to maladaptive attempts to avoid or suppress these experiences, further decreasing the opportunities for rewarding social experiences, as well as rewarding experiences more generally (Kashdan & Steger, 2006). This cycle maintains social anxiety, and leads to perceptions of poor social performance (Hopko, McNeil, Zvolensky, & Eifert, 2002), which induces exhaustive efforts of experiential avoidance that limit reward-seeking behavior and reduce overall general positive experiences (Kashdan & Collins, 2010;Kashdan et al., 2011). Flow experiences are defined as positive and rewarding, yet effortful (Csikszentmihalyi, 2009;Keller & Bless, 2008). ...
    ... Flow experiences occur naturally in situations where perceived performance matches the perceived challenge of a situation. As reviewed, experiential avoidance in SAD should often inhibit these opportunities, and attentional biases in SAD should often inhibit these perceptions (Kashdan et al., 2011;Kashdan et al., 2013). With this framework in mind, Hypotheses 1 and 2 are as follows: ...
    Article
    Individuals with Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) have difficulty engaging in social situations because their actions are predicated on minimizing the subjectively biased high potential for rejection. That is, individuals with SAD frequently perceive social situations as challenging, and their performance as subpar. Yet when individuals perceive themselves as succeeding in challenging situations, they typically report these situations as enjoyable and rewarding. This subjective experience of succeeding in a challenging situation has been studied as flow (Csikszentmihalyi, 1975; 2000). Thirty-three adults with SAD and 34 matched healthy controls completed a baseline assessment, along with daily and experience sampling entries for 14 days. Results were analyzed using three-level generalized linear mixed effects models, with observations nested within days, nested within participants. Although individuals with and without SAD experienced the same frequency of flow in daily life, social situations led to proportionally more flow in participants with SAD than healthy controls. Both results were unexpected, and reasons for them are explored at length. Several experiential variables (positive emotions during and importance ascribed to the event) predicted the probability of flow during each situation. These results offer intervention-relevant suggestions for how individuals may benefit from seeking out challenging situations that offer maximal rewards.
  • ... Theoretical models suggest that people with SAD display maladaptive emotion regulation patterns that interfere with positive experiences and meaningful life pursuits (Kashdan, Weeks, & Savostyanova, 2011). People with SAD view emotions as unhelpful and potentially harmful, as they worry that certain emotions may be visible (e.g. ...
    ... Theoretical models suggest that people with SAD have difficulty deriving meaningful experiences because they hold negative attitudes toward emotions and disproportionately focus on trying to control and/or get rid of unwanted emotions (Kashdan et al., 2011). As a result of excess focus on emotion regulation, people with SAD may be less equipped to attend to potentially meaningful experiences as they unfold and have fewer available resources to pursue valued goals. ...
    Article
    Full-text available
    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.
  • ... Moreover, excessive experiential avoidance has the paradoxical effect of increasing social anxiety (Kashdan et al., 2014). This maladaptive emotion regulation pattern, characterized by attempts to avoid or suppress emotions, contributes to blunted positive experiences (Kashdan, Weeks, & Savostyanova, 2011). ...
    ... Socially anxious individuals tend to avoid social situations because they believe with near certainty that things will go poorly (Hofmann, 2007). Excessive focus on social threats and attempts to regulate anxiety makes it more difficult to connect with others and have positive social experiences (Kashdan, Weeks, et al., 2011). Alcohol consumption may act as social lubricant that enables individuals to have more positive social experiences despite the presence of social anxiety. ...
    Article
    Full-text available
    Most research on the link between social anxiety and alcohol consumption has examined problematic outcomes without consideration of potential adaptive functions. Alcohol is an anxiolytic that has the short-term benefit of reducing anxiety; consumption may act as a social lubricant that facilitates higher quality social interactions. Using experience-sampling methodology, we examined how consuming alcohol attenuates the adverse effects of social anxiety in naturally occurring social interactions. Participants (N = 160) completed demographic and trait measures, then completed daily assessments for 14 consecutive days. Results from multilevel model analyses revealed that during face-to-face social interactions, state social anxiety was inversely related to 10 indicators of healthy social interactions (e.g., enjoyment, laughter, feelings of acceptance). Alcohol consumption moderated seven of these associations, such that when participants consumed alcohol in social situations, state social anxiety was no longer associated with social interaction quality. The quantity of alcoholic drinks consumed moderated two of these associations. Furthermore, we found evidence for directionality, such that social anxiety in a given social interaction predicted alcohol consumption in a subsequent social interaction, but not the reverse (i.e., alcohol consumption did not prospectively predict state social anxiety). In social situations that involved alcohol, experiences of social anxiety no longer thwarted one's ability to derive social benefits. These results should be interpreted in the context of a participant sample with relatively low levels of trait social anxiety and frequency of alcohol use. Nonetheless, obtaining social rewards may be a reinforcement mechanism that maintains the link between social anxiety and alcohol consumption.
  • ... There is some evidence that deficits in reward responsiveness also extend to anxiety disorders. For instance, even when controlling for depression history, social anxiety is characterized by diminished positive experiences, infrequent positive events, and fear responses to overtly positive experiences (5). Diminished hedonic responses have also been documented among individuals with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD, 6) and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD, 7), albeit with mixed evidence. ...
    ... Specifically, there is also evidence for intact reward responses among individuals with anxiety disorders at self-report and behavioral levels (8). It has been suggested that the relationship between anxiety and reward responsiveness might vary as a function of self-regulatory abilities (5) or the presence of anhedonia (1) among individuals. ...
    Article
    Full-text available
    Objective: Reward positivity (RewP), a neurophysiologic index of reward responsivity, is consistently reduced in participants with depression and, to a lesser extent, anxiety. It remains unknown, however, whether RewP can be altered as psychiatric symptoms change with treatment. The current study addressed this question by examining differences in RewP within patients before and after 12 weeks of treatment with a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) or cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). We also examined the utility of RewP as a predictor of symptom change during CBT and SSRI treatment. Methods: Participants were recruited between 2014 and 2017 and included adults with a primary DSM-5 anxiety or depressive disorder (n = 63) and healthy controls (n = 25). At baseline and 12 weeks, participants completed a monetary award task while electroencephalogram (EEG) was recorded. Between EEG sessions, patients completed CBT or SSRI treatment. Results: At baseline, higher levels of depressive symptoms were associated with a more attenuated RewP. We found no significant differences between patients and healthy controls in the degree of RewP change across the 12 weeks; however, among patients, the extent of increase in RewP robustly correlated with the extent of decline in depressive (t = -2.21, P = .03) and anxiety (t = -2.57, P = .02) symptoms following CBT and SSRI treatment. Additionally, a more attenuated RewP at baseline predicted a greater reduction in depressive symptoms following treatment with SSRIs (t = -2.04, P < .05), but not after CBT. Conclusions: These findings highlight neural responsiveness to reward as both a mechanism and a predictor of depressive symptom change that may be used serve as an objective index of symptom improvement. Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov identifier: NCT01903447.
  • ... Research using diary techniques and other retrospective methods shows that individuals with elevated social anxiety tend to experience blunted positive affect and, in some cases, report fewer and less intense positive events (Blanco & Joormann, 2017;T. A. Brown, Chorpita, & Barlow, 1998;Farmer & Kashdan, 2012;Geyer et al., 2018;Kashdan, 2002Kashdan, , 2007Kashdan & Breen, 2008;Kashdan & Collins, 2010;Kashdan & Steger, 2006;Kashdan, Weeks, & Savostyanova, 2011). For example, Farmer and Kashdan (2012) used 2 weeks of diary data to demonstrate that individuals with higher levels of social anxiety report significantly less intense positive affect in their daily lives. ...
    ... Hypothesis 2: Consistent with prior work by our group and others (e.g., T. A. Brown et al., 1998;Geyer et al., 2018;Kashdan & Collins, 2010;Kashdan & Steger, 2006;Kashdan et al., 2011), we anticipated that elevated social anxiety will be associated with lower average levels of happiness, social belonging, and social approach motivation, and higher average levels of anxiety and social avoidance motivation. We also expected that individuals with elevated trait social anxiety would perceive positive events during the past hour as less intense. ...
    Article
    Full-text available
    Understanding how individuals with varying levels of social anxiety respond to daily positive events is important. Psychological processes that increase positive emotions are being widely used as strategies to not only enhance well-being but also reduce the symptoms and impairment tied to negative emotional dispositions and conditions, including excessive social anxiety. At present, it is unclear whether and how levels of social anxiety impact the psychological benefits derived from momentary positive events. We used ecological momentary assessment to examine the impact of trait social anxiety on momentary changes in emotions, sense of belonging, and social approach versus avoidance motivation following positive events in daily life. Over the course of a week, people with elevated social anxiety experienced greater momentary anxiety and social avoidance motivation and lower momentary happiness and sense of belonging on average. Despite these impairments, individuals with elevated social anxiety experienced greater psychological benefits-in the form of reduced anxiety and motivation to avoid social situations, and an increased sense of belonging-following positive events during the past hour that were rated as particularly intense. This pattern of findings was not specific to social anxiety, with evidence of similar effects for other forms of internalizing psychopathology (general anxiety and depression). These observations detail circumstances in which individuals with social anxiety, and other emotional disturbances, can thrive-creating potentially important targets for intervention. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved).
  • ... Consistent with our prediction, we observed that none of overall neuroticism and its subdimensions significantly related to the emotion regulation effects of reappraisal in behavioral or amygdala activation measures in this study. This suggests that the regulatory effects of cognitive reappraisal were stable and unaffected by individual differences in trait neuroticism and its subdimensional measures, and that high neurotic individuals should use a more adaptive emotion regulation strategy (e.g., reappraisal) for the successful regulation of their emotions 47 . Moreover, consistent with a recent fMRI study reporting that expressive suppression down-regulated the social-related activation in right amygdala to a larger extent than reappraisal 36 , we found that self-consciousness uniquely predicts reduced emotion regulation effect of expressive suppression in right amygdala activations, confirming that specific subdimensional traits are often closer to specific physiological systems than the overall personality dimension 19 . ...
    Article
    Full-text available
    The present functional magnetic resonance imaging study investigated how trait neuroticism and its heterogeneous subdimensions are related to the emotional consequences and neural underpinnings of emotion regulation. Two levels of neuroticism assessments were conducted with 47 female subjects, who were required to attend to, suppress emotion displays to, or cognitively reappraise the meanings of negative images. The results showed reduced emotional experience and bilateral amygdala activation during reappraisal, and this regulation effect is unaffected by individual differences in neuroticism and its subdimensions. By contrast, the emotion downregulation effect of suppression in the right amygdala is compromised with increasing self-consciousness but not overall neuroticism dimension. This association holds robust after controlling the potential contribution of habitual suppression. Moreover, the psychophysiological interaction (PPI) analysis revealed that self-consciousness predicts weaker functional coupling of the right amygdala to supplementary motor area and putamen during expressive suppression, two regions mediating the control and execution of motor actions. These findings suggest that self-consciousness predicts increased difficulty in emotional regulation using expressive suppression; and that the heterogeneous nature of trait neuroticism needs to be considered in exploring the association of neuroticism and emotion regulation.
  • ... Effective treatments that directly focus on positive emotions, which can result from or be manifestations of pleasure as described above, have been developed and tested for mental health conditions other than substance use disorders. The inability to experience pleasure, anhedonia, is a key clinical feature of several mental disorders besides those related to substance use, including major depressive disorder, social anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and schizophrenia [85,86,87,88,89]. Psychosocial treatments, such as positive psychotherapy have been developed to focus specifically on increasing and maintaining positive emotions, among individuals with these conditions [90,91]. ...
    Article
    Full-text available
    Background: People commonly use psychoactive substances to increase physical and psychological pleasure. Neuroadaptations in the brain's reward system coupled with changes in social functioning and networking resulting from chronic substance use impede the ability to derive pleasure from non-substance related activities. Objective: We elucidate and validate the hypothesis that treatments for substance use disorders would potentially have a stronger and broader impact by helping recipients to experience pleasure as part of an expansive focus of increasing adaptive functioning, well-being, and personal fulfillment and actualization. Method: We have organized and integrated the relatively sparse and disparate theory and research to describe a multi-stage model linking pleasure and substance use. We review research on pleasure in the context of treatment for substance use, and describe future research directions. Results: Our model integrates several independent research programs with prominent theories and models of substance dependence that together provide evidence that pleasure, or lack thereof, is a risk or protective factor for initiating, escalating and maintaining substance use and substance use disorders. Pleasure is an overlooked but potentially high-yield target of existing evidence-based treatments. Conclusion: Research is needed to investigate the relation between pleasure and substance use, and existing and newly developed treatments that have the potential to increase the pleasure. By increasing pleasure such treatments have the potential to help recipients to live fuller and richer lives. Integration of pleasure into existing treatments has compelling transdiagnostic implications for individuals at any point along a substance use severity continuum.
  • ... Specifically, it has previously been established that experiential avoidance precedes symptoms of social anxiety (Kashdan et al., 2014). Concerning positive affect, HSAs experienced less positive affect in this study as has been consistently demonstrated in the literature (e.g., Kashdan, 2007;Kashdan, Weeks, & Savostyanova, 2011). However, when it comes to the variation in employment of emotion regulation strategies in response to different intensity levels of positive emotions, HSAs and LSAs did not differ. ...
    Article
    Background and objectives: Individuals with social anxiety disorder have often been considered inflexible in their emotion regulation. The aim of this study was to investigate emotion regulation flexibility in socially anxious individuals in response to two contextual factors, namely different levels of emotion intensity and emotion type. Methods: A daily diary approach was employed, investigating emotion regulation (i.e., experiential avoidance, expressive suppression and cognitive reappraisal) in college students scoring high (N = 62; HSA) and low (N = 52; LSA) on social anxiety. Results: Results revealed that HSAs were found to use more experiential avoidance than LSAs, especially at higher levels of negative intensity. The use of this emotion regulation strategy appeared to be driven by guilt, nervousness, and sadness. There were no between-group differences concerning the other strategies in response to varying levels of emotional intensity. Conclusions: Together, the results provide evidence for inflexible emotion regulation in HSAs, reflected in an unwillingness to experience negative emotions.
  • ... Several theorists (e.g. Kashdan, Weeks, & Savostyanova, 2011;Heimberg, Brozovich, & Rapee, 2010) have proposed that this is an essential element in the development of social anxiety, such that greater experiential avoidance leads to greater social anxiety. Specifically, the findings of Kashdan et al. (2014) showed that although EA levels in an individual were similar across situations, the relationship between experiential avoidance and social anxiety depends on the context of the situation. ...
    Article
    Due to the overarching and related concepts involved in interpersonal sensitivity, this study aimed to look at the differences between, and relationships of, some of its concepts by explaining the mediating effect of experiential avoidance on rejection sensitivity and social interaction anxiety. One hundred fifty-nine undergraduates within the National Capital Region, aged 16 to 40 (M = 19.29, SD = 2.89), and comprising 89 females and 70 males participated in the study. Results show that both rejection sensitivity and experiential avoidance significantly affect social interaction anxiety. Also, a full mediation occurs when experiential avoidance serves as a mediator. This is explained through the occurrence of habitual coping, whereby the cognitive aspect of behavior (in this case, rejection sensitivity) becomes dormant and unnecessary. Some variables which may have possibly accounted for the relationship between these concepts may be considered for future research to validate and better understand the findings of this study.
  • ... There is increasing interest in understanding positive emotion regulation, defined as the range of processes used to change the nature, frequency and intensity of positive emotion experience (Bryant, Chadwick, & Kluwe, 2011;Carl, Soskin, Kerns, & Barlow, 2013;Quoidbach & Gross, 2015). Helping individuals enhance positive emotions in appropriate situations may increase wellbeing in the general population and in clinical groups who experience anhedonia (e.g., depression, social phobia and schizophrenia; Dunn, 2012;Dunn & Roberts, 2016;Kashdan, Weeks, & Savostyanova, 2011;Watson & Naragon-Gainey, 2010). ...
    Article
    Full-text available
    It is important to identify effective emotion regulation strategies to increase positive emotion experience in the general population and in clinical conditions characterized by anhedonia. There are indications that engaging in experiential processing (direct awareness of sensory and bodily experience) bolsters positive emotion experience but this has not been extensively tested during memory recall. To further test this notion, 99 community participants recalled two positive autobiographical memories. Prior to the second recall, participants either underwent an experiential, analytical, or distraction induction (n = 33 per condition). Subjective happiness and sadness ratings and heart rate variability (HRV) response were measured during each recall. Greater spontaneous use of experiential processing during the first memory was associated with greater happiness experience, but was unrelated to HRV and sadness experience. Inducing experiential processing increased happiness experience relative to both the analytical and distraction conditions (but had no impact on sadness experience). There was a significant difference in HRV between conditions. The experiential condition led to a trend-significant increase, and the other conditions a non-significant decrease, in HRV from the first to the second memory. These results suggest that engaging in experiential processing is an effective way to up-regulate positive emotion experience during positive memory recall.
  • ... This hypothesis fits well with previous research finding that individuals with social anxiety experience atypical reactions to overtly positive encounters. Individuals with social anxiety are more likely to experience positive social interactions as aversive and distressing, and often endorse fear of positive evaluation by others (Kashdan, Weeks, & Savostyanova, 2011). They are also more likely to discount positive social encounters, such that positive regard from others may be viewed as disingenuous or simply due to social etiquette (Vassilopoulos & Banerjee, 2008;Vassilopoulos & Banerjee, 2010). ...
  • ... If memories of aversive past experiences in SAD are retrieved in more episodic detail, such memories would be expected to be highly accessible and exert a strong impact on socially anxious individuals' emotions and self-attitudes than less detailed memories. Moreover, in light of the well-documented overlap in the cognitive and affective substrates of SAD and depression (e.g., Moscovitch, Hofmann, Suvak, & In-Albon, 2005), it is also 2 Though low-anxious individuals might also experience negative image instruions in anxiety-provoking social situations, they tend to cope with such intrusions in a more adaptive manner (for example, by spontaneously modifying their negative perceptual features within their imagination), which helps to inhibit negatively biased interpretations of their meaning and mitigate anxious distress ( Behaviour Research and Therapy 107 (2018) [106][107][108][109][110][111][112][113][114][115][116] plausible that autobiographical memories retrieved by people with SAD would be degraded in episodic detail, particularly for memories of past positive social experiences, thus dampening the accessibility and potential salutary impact of such memories and providing further evidence in support of the "positivity deficits" hypothesis in social anxiety (Kashdan, Weeks, & Savostyanova, 2011). Finally, it is possible that the autobiographical memories of those with SAD might consist of more negatively-valenced external details, perhaps demonstrating that memory content in SAD is heavily imbued with non-specific selfknowledge derived primarily from negative self-schemas, like for those with PTSD (McKinnon et al., 2015). ...
  • ... To do so, we tested whether two commonly used self-report questionnaires, a BAT containing a speech, a BAT using virtual situations, and approach-avoidance behavior assessed with the AAT, predicted social anxiety in everyday life. Moreover, we were interested whether the described measures predict experiential avoidance, referring to the tendency to control and extinguish unpleasant internal events, such as negative emotions, thoughts, and bodily sensations (Hayes et al., 1996), which has been associated with social anxiety (Kashdan et al., 2014;Kashdan, Weeks & Savostyanova, 2011) and the experience of negative social events in daily life. ...
    Article
    Full-text available
    Social anxiety is commonly assessed with self-report measures. This study aimed to investigate whether maximum anxiety levels during in vivo and virtual reality behavioral assessment tasks (BATs), and implicit approach-avoidance tendencies during the approach-avoidance task (AAT) explain more variation as predictors of daily social anxiety than self-report measures. A total of 62 university students ( Mage = 20.79; SD = 4.91) with high levels of social anxiety completed self-report measures on fear of negative evaluation (FNE-B) as well as fear and avoidance in social situations (Liebowitz social anxiety scale-self report), in vivo and virtual reality BATs, and the AAT (independent variables) in the laboratory. On seven consecutive days, social anxiety, experiential avoidance, and negative social events (dependent variables) were assessed. The results revealed that fear of negative evaluation predicted everyday social anxiety and experiential avoidance. Fear and avoidance in social situations only predicted experiential avoidance. Neither implicit approach-avoidance tendencies during the AAT nor maximum anxiety levels during the in vivo and virtual reality BATs predicted any outcome variable. Our results support the use of self-report questionnaires in the assessment of social anxiety.
  • ... Theorists suggest that people with SAD believe they are inherently deficient or flawed, hold themselves to unreasonably high expectations, and overestimate the likelihood of social rejection (Moscovitch, 2009). This constellation of beliefs facilitates an avoidant style of emotion regulation, in which the motivation to avoid rejection overrides the motivation to pursue potential social rewards and valued goals (Kashdan, Weeks, & Savostyanova, 2011). Results of the present study suggest that another set of beliefs-emotion beliefs-might also be relevant to social anxiety. ...
    Article
    Full-text available
    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).
  • ... Although this finding was a result of analysis of the combined (autis- tic and TD) samples, autistic participants reported more early life bullying and scored lower on self-esteem and higher on anxiety and compliance scales, suggesting that this finding has relevance for them. It is possible that the difficulties associated with navigating the social world which are characteristic of autism mean that autistic indi- viduals may be less able to utilise a range of complex social strategies to regain a sense of self-esteem, and as a result experience depleted self-regulation capacity and an increased tendency to comply (see Kashdan et al., 2011). Future work should examine this possibility in more depth and explore whether social anxiety also plays a causal role. ...
    Article
    Autism and Compliance: Self report in Action
  • ... FPE has a significantly stronger association with concerns of social reprisal due to making positive impressions than did FNE. Weeks and Howell found FPE to be the sole component of social anxiety tied to decreased positive experiences; this led them to suggest that FPE is a significant factor in overall positivity impairment (see also Kashdan, Weeks, & Savostyanova, 2011). ...
    Article
    Capitalization interactions within romantic couples, in which they share positive events with each other, are significantly tied to their satisfaction and overall well-being. Recent work suggests that social anxiety is negatively associated with beneficial capitalization interactions (i.e., making capitalization bids and responding with active and constructive responses). To further investigate this understanding, we offer a deeper and differentiating look at two core components of social anxiety: fears of positive and negative evaluation. In addition, we offer an innovative look at the varying self-disclosures of capitalization recipients, by using a novel index-Relevant Talking Time (RTT) which examines the duration of relevantly disclosing and discussing one's own good event. We reasoned that the two types of evaluative fears might have different connections to capitalization processes, considering provision, receipt, and self-disclosure. Our findings (N = 74; 37 community couples in a lab-videotaped` interaction) suggest that high fear of positive evaluation is associated with poorer provision of active-constructive capitalization, whereas high fear of negative evaluation is associated with a reduced disclosers' RTT. In addition, our results interestingly demonstrate that disclosers' RTT is tied to their partners' anxiety characteristics as well. We discuss the possible implications and explanations of our findings.
  • ... More recently, there has been an increasing interest in also characterizing the impact of strategies that aim to up-regulate positive affect (Bryant, Chadwick, & Kluwe, 2011;Carl, Soskin, Kerns, & Barlow, 2013;Quoidbach, Mikolajczak, & Gross, 2015). Understanding the specific strategies that help to build positive emotions in appropriate contexts could increase levels of wellbeing in the general population and in mental health conditions characterized by reduced positive affect (anhedonia), including depression, social phobia and schizophrenia (Dunn & Roberts, 2016;Dunn, 2012;Kashdan, Weeks, & Savostyanova, 2011;Watson & Naragon-Gainey, 2010). ...
    Article
    The way individuals appraise positive emotions may modulate affective experience during positive activity scheduling. Individuals may either engage in dampening appraisals (e.g., think “this is too good to last”) or amplifying appraisals (e.g., think “I deserve this”). A cross-over randomized design was used to examine the consequences of these appraisal styles. Participants (N = 43) rated positive affect (PA) and negative affect (NA) during four daily walks in pleasant locations, whilst following dampening, emotion-focus amplifying (focusing on how good one feels), self-focus amplifying (focusing on positive self qualities), or control instructions. There was no difference between the two amplifying and control conditions, which all increased PA and reduced NA during the walks. However, the dampening condition significantly differed from all other conditions, reducing PA and increasing NA during the walk. Individual differences in anhedonia symptoms did not significantly moderate the pattern of findings. This evidence supports the view that dampening appraisals may be one mechanism driving anhedonia and may account for why positive activity scheduling can sometimes backfire when utilized in the clinic.
  • ... Although this finding was a result of analysis of the combined (autistic and TD) samples, autistic participants reported more early life bullying and scored lower on self-esteem and higher on anxiety and compliance scales, suggesting that this finding has relevance for them. It is possible that the difficulties associated with navigating the social world which are characteristic of autism mean that autistic individuals may be less able to utilise a range of complex social strategies to regain a sense of self-esteem, and as a result experience depleted self-regulation capacity and an increased tendency to comply (see Kashdan et al., 2011). Future work should examine this possibility in more depth and explore whether social anxiety also plays a causal role. ...
    Article
    Full-text available
    Previous research indicates that autistic individuals are more likely to be bullied, and that they experience heightened anxiety and diminished self-esteem. These factors are known to predict heightened compliance, which is the tendency to agree with or carry out the requests and demands of others. This has a range of potentially serious consequences, particularly for an autistic person. This study utilised self-report (the Gudjonsson Compliance Scale) and behavioural measures of compliance (the door-in-the-face task) with 26 autistic and 26 typically developing adults. Participants also completed measures of early life bullying experiences, anxiety and self-esteem. Autistic participants were more compliant on both self-report and experimental tasks, and they reported more bullying experiences, higher anxiety and reduced self-esteem. Looking at both groups, bullying, anxiety and self-esteem were all correlated with self-reported compliance on the Gudjonsson Compliance Scale, yet only self-esteem was a unique predictor. None of these predictor variables related to behavioural compliance on the door in the face; nor did Gudjonsson Compliance Scale scores predict door-in-the-face performance, which may be better explained by situational and motivational factors. Findings have important implications for a range of real-life settings including requests made in the context of research, schools, the criminal justice system and the workplace.
  • ... Socially anxious individuals are prone to heightened fear, anxiety, and avoidance of social interactions and situations associated with potential scrutiny ( Alden and Taylor, 2004;Heimberg et al., 2014). In addition to heightened negative affect (NA), socially anxious individuals tend to report lower levels of positive affect (PA) (Anderson and Hope, 2008;Kashdan and Collins, 2010;Kashdan et al., 2011;Geyer et al., 2018). Social anxiety symptoms lie on a continuum and, when extreme, can become debilitating (Lipsitz and Schneier, 2000;Katzelnick et al., 2001;Kessler, 2003;Rapee and Spence, 2004;Craske et al., 2017;Stein et al., 2017;Krueger et al., 2018;Conway et al., 2019;Ruscio, 2019). ...
    Preprint
    Social anxiety lies on a continuum, and young adults with elevated symptoms are at risk for developing a range of debilitating psychiatric disorders. Yet, relatively little is known about the factors that govern the momentary expression of social anxiety in daily life, close to clinically significant end-points. Here, we used smartphone-based ecological momentary assessment to intensively sample emotional experience across different social contexts in the daily lives of 228 young adults selectively recruited to represent a broad spectrum of social anxiety symptoms. Leveraging data from over 11,000 assessments, results highlight the vital role of close friends, family members, and romantic partners. Socially anxious individuals report smaller confidant networks and spend significantly less time with their close companions. As a consequence, they are less frequent beneficiaries of close companions’ mood-enhancing effects. Although higher levels of social anxiety are associated with a general reduction in the quality of momentary emotional experience, socially anxious individuals derived significantly larger benefits—lower levels of negative affect, anxiety, and depression—from the company of close companions. Collectively, these findings provide a novel framework for understanding the deleterious consequences of social anxiety and set the stage for developing improved intervention strategies.
  • ... Regarding positive indicators, studies have shown that adolescents' loneliness associates with lower self-esteem and life satisfaction (e.g., Cacioppo, Hughes, Waite, Hawkley, & Thisted, 2006;Çivitci & Çivitci, 2009;Kapıkıran, 2013). Likewise, adolescents' social anxiety associates with lower self-esteem and life satisfaction (Gómez-Ortiz, Roldán, Ortega-Ruiz, & García- López, 2018;Kashdan, Weeks, & Savostyanova, 2011, for a review). Although such studies have enriched understanding of adolescents' mental health, some research questions remain regarding the relations between loneliness and social anxiety and comprehensive mental health (i.e., positive and negative indicators of mental health), other than the previously mentioned methodological limitations. ...
    Article
    Full-text available
    The research examined whether clusters of loneliness and social anxiety could be identified through latent profile analysis in a longitudinal study of 892 Chinese adolescents (47.8% male), on average 12.96 (SD = 0.62) years old. Six clusters were identified: (a) low loneliness and social anxiety, (b) average loneliness and social anxiety, (c) high social anxiety and low loneliness, (d) high loneliness and low social anxiety, (e) moderate loneliness and social anxiety, and (f) high loneliness and social anxiety. Findings indicated that baseline family dysfunction and school-related stress served as risk factors for membership in the clusters representing higher levels of loneliness and social anxiety compared to the low cluster. Controlling for the baseline levels of respective outcomes, 6 clusters were differentially related to subsequent comprehensive mental health outcomes, underscoring the importance of the roles of both the loneliness and social anxiety processes in adolescents' mental health. Furthermore, these findings indicated that the interactions between social anxiety and loneliness within individuals were differentially related to levels of comprehensive mental health outcomes, implying the need for intervention programs to be tailored to the members of the specific clusters. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).
  • ... Socially anxious individuals are prone to heightened fear, anxiety, and avoidance of social interactions and situations associated with potential scrutiny ( Alden and Taylor, 2004;Heimberg et al., 2014). In addition to heightened negative affect (NA), socially anxious individuals tend to report lower levels of positive affect (PA) (Anderson and Hope, 2008;Kashdan and Collins, 2010;Kashdan et al., 2011;Geyer et al., 2018). Social anxiety symptoms lie on a continuum and, when extreme, can become debilitating (Lipsitz and Schneier, 2000;Katzelnick et al., 2001;Kessler, 2003;Rapee and Spence, 2004;Craske et al., 2017;Stein et al., 2017;Krueger et al., 2018;Conway et al., 2019;Ruscio, 2019). ...
    Article
    Full-text available
    Background Social anxiety lies on a continuum, and young adults with elevated symptoms are at risk for developing a range of psychiatric disorders. Yet relatively little is known about the factors that govern the hour-by-hour experience and expression of social anxiety in the real world. Methods Here we used smartphone-based ecological momentary assessment (EMA) to intensively sample emotional experience across different social contexts in the daily lives of 228 young adults selectively recruited to represent a broad spectrum of social anxiety symptoms. Results Leveraging data from over 11 000 real-world assessments, our results highlight the central role of close friends, family members, and romantic partners. The presence of such close companions was associated with enhanced mood, yet socially anxious individuals had fewer confidants and spent less time with the close companions that they do have. Although higher levels of social anxiety were associated with a general worsening of mood, socially anxious individuals appear to derive larger benefits – lower levels of negative affect, anxiety, and depression – from their close companions. In contrast, variation in social anxiety was unrelated to the amount of time spent with strangers, co-workers, and acquaintances; and we uncovered no evidence of emotional hypersensitivity to these less-familiar individuals. Conclusions These findings provide a framework for understanding the deleterious consequences of social anxiety in emerging adulthood and set the stage for developing improved intervention strategies.
  • ... Levine, Schmidt, Kang, & Tinti, 2012;Schacter, Guerin, & St. Jacques, 2011;Wilson & Ross, 2003). A growing body of research has documented a variety of "positivity deficits" for people with higher levels of SA across a range of situations and experiences (Kashdan, 2007;Kashdan, Weeks, & Savostyanova, 2011). To this end, individuals with high SA or SAD have been shown to underestimate their social competence even in positive interactions (Kashdan, Morina, & Priebe, 2009), report fewer and less intense positive emotions in response to social experiences (Kashdan & Collins, 2010), endorse fewer everyday positive experiences relative to controls (Kashdan & Steger, 2006), and demonstrate reduced capacity to savour positive experiences of any nature (Eisner, Johnson, & Carver, 2009). ...
    Article
    Cognitive models of social anxiety disorder suggest that memory biases for negative social information contribute to symptoms of social anxiety (SA). However, it remains unclear whether memory biases in SA are related to social information, specifically, and if so, whether the valence of such information would moderate memory performance. In the present study, 197 community participants were randomised to imagine themselves as the central character in either 10 social or 10 non-social scenarios. In both conditions, half of the scenarios ended with objectively positive outcomes and half ended with objectively negative outcomes. Results demonstrated that higher trait SA was related to memory performance for social scenarios only, and in particular to poorer memory for social scenarios that ended positively. Thus, the impact of SA on memory performance depended on how social information was framed, with higher SA related to poorer memory for positive social experiences. These context-specific effects contribute to the growing literature on positivity deficits in SA.
  • ... To date, studies on EDs have not differentiated between the two components of the IB postulated by Amir (2008, 2009): the tendency to endorse negative interpretations and the tendency to reject positive interpretations. For participants with SAD, both threat bias and lack of positive IB (interpreting an ambiguous situation as neutral) have been found (Amir, Prouvost, & Kuckertz, 2012), with the former potentially resulting in avoidance of social situations and the latter in a decreased tendency to experience positive affect in such situations (Kashdan, Weeks, & Savotyanova, 2011). In contrast, a greater severity of GAD symptoms and worry was not found to be associated with a tendency to reject positive interpretations, but was related to endorsement of threat interpretations (Ogniewicz, Dugas, Langlois, Gosselin, & Koerner, 2014). ...
    Article
    Full-text available
    Objective: Cognitive biases, such as memory, attention, and interpretation bias, are thought to play a central role in the development and maintenance of eating disorders (EDs). The aim of the present study was to investigate whether the interpretation bias is ED-specific or can be generalized to comorbid disorder-related threats in women with high levels of ED symptoms. Method: In an online study, we measured interpretation bias using the modified Sentence Word Association Paradigm (SWAP), comparing women with (n = 39) and without (sub)threshold eating disorders (n = 56). We assessed endorsement and rejection rates as well as reaction times in response to a positive/neutral or a negative ED-specific, social anxiety-specific (SAD), or generalized anxiety-specific (GAD) interpretive word following an ambiguous sentence. Results: In ambiguous situations, women with high ED symptoms selected more negative (p < .001) and fewer positive/neutral ED-related interpretations (p < .001). Negative interpretations were endorsed significantly faster (p < .001), while positive interpretations were rejected faster in this group (p < .001). These women also manifested negative SAD-specific interpretation bias patterns in reaction time measures. Nevertheless, ED severity was best predicted by the endorsement of negative ED-specific stimuli, whereas ED and SAD reaction time measures seemed to have a negligible effect. Discussion: The results indicate that the interpretation bias might be ED-specific. The SWAP can be a useful tool for the further investigation of the etiological relevance of the interpretation bias as well as for the development of modification training interventions.
  • ... 95% CI [-.16, -.26]; Kashdan, 2007). These findings are paralleled with results harnessing longitudinal datasets, experimental designs, and structural equation modeling methods (Brown, Chorpita, & Barlow, 1998;Kashdan, Weeks, & Savostyanova, 2011;Khaza- nov & Ruscio, 2016;Sewart et al., 2019). Lack of explicit attention to the positive dimension of affect may in part explain less than optimal treatment response rates for CBT for SAD (see Loerinc et al., 2015). ...
    Article
    Traditional cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) for anxiety disorders has been designed to target reductions in negative affect (NA) associated with defense-related processes. However, a subset of anxiety disorders, including social anxiety disorder (SAD), are also characterized by low positive affect (PA) resulting from separate deficits in appetitive-related processes. In contrast to CBT, “third-wave” approaches, such as acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), align more consistently with motivational processes and, as a result, PA. However, the differential effect of CBT and ACT on PA and NA has yet to be investigated. Using secondary data from a randomized controlled trial, the present study sought to compare CBT’s (n = 45) and ACT’s (n = 35) effect on PA and NA in SAD. Findings were compared to a wait-list (WL) control condition (n = 31), as well as normative data from a general adult sample. Baseline PA and NA were also examined as moderators and predictors of theory-relevant treatment outcomes. NA decreased significantly in both CBT and ACT from pre to posttreatment. Although ACT outperformed WL in reducing NA, this effect was not observed for CBT. PA increased significantly in both CBT and ACT from pre to posttreatment, with neither ACT nor CBT outperforming WL in increasing PA. Neither PA nor NA were found to moderate theoretically relevant treatment outcomes. Findings suggest that ACT and CBT share common treatment mechanisms, making them more similar than distinct. Further efforts should be focused on optimizing CBT’s and ACT’s influence on threat and reward learning, and elucidating common processes of change.
  • ... anxiety and PTSD), individuals with depression exhibit the highest level of positive devaluation (for a review, see Winer and Salem 2016). Besides RCPR and RDT, other frameworks, such as the self-regulation framework for depression (Kashdan et al. 2011), also conceptualize ER as a core underlying contributing factors for depression. ...
    Article
    Full-text available
    Environmental reward (ER) is an established mechanism contributing to depression. Given the high prevalence of depression in China and Taiwan, it is important to develop measures that facilitate the examination of cultural similarities and differences in ER. The reward probability index (RPI) assesses ER through items measuring individual access to rewarding (Reward Probability) and aversive (Environmental Suppressor) events. The purpose of the current study is to translate the RPI into Chinese (C-RPI) and to study cultural difference in ER by examining structural- and item-level differences in RPI functioning. A total of 930 college students were recruited from China (n = 300), Taiwan (n = 300), and the United States (n = 330). Confirmatory factor analysis was used to study the configural invariance of the RPI and C-RPI. Item response theory-based differential item functioning (DIF) testing was used to study item level differences in functioning between the RPI and C-RPI. Results overall support the established RPI structure in all three regions. Most Reward Probability items exhibit no DIF across cultures, while most Environmental Suppressor items exhibit DIF across cultures. Findings highlight cultural difference in ER constructs and cultural factors contributing to the observed DIF. The assessment and clinical implications of the findings are also discussed.
  • ... Effect sizes for cross-sectional and longitudinal relationships between positive affect and anxiety are significant and indistinguishable from corresponding effect sizes for positive affect and depression (Khazanov & Ruscio, 2016;Kotov, Gamez, Schmidt, & Watson, 2010). Moreover, in experimental paradigms, hedonic impairments have been observed in social anxiety disorder (Kashdan, Weeks, & Savostyanova, 2011), posttraumatic stress disorder (Hopper et al., 2008;Litz, Orsillo, Kaloupek, & Weathers, 2000), and generalized anxiety disorder (Srivastava, Sharma, & Mandal, 2003), including youth samples (Morris, Bylsma, Yaroslavsky, Kovacs, & Rottenberg, 2015). ...
    Article
    Loss of pleasure or interest in activities (i.e., anhedonia) is a risk factor for suicidality, treatment nonresponse, and relapse. Extant treatments that focus on reducing negative affect have limited effects upon positive affect (a core feature of anhedonia). We investigated whether a novel intervention aimed at increasing reward sensitivity was more efficacious for positive affect than a cognitive- behavior treatment aimed at reducing threat sensitivity, in individuals with clinically severe symptoms of depression or anxiety, and functional impairment. Method: The Treatment for Affective Dimensions trial was offered in a 2-site randomized study at outpatient treatment centers in Los Angeles and Dallas. Ninety-six patients were randomized to 15 weekly, individual sessions of Positive Affect Treatment (PAT) or Negative Affect Treatment (NAT). The primary outcome was improvement in positive affect (Positive and Negative Affect Schedule-Positive) from pretreatment to 6-month follow-up (6MFU). Secondary outcomes were improvements in negative affect (Positive and Negative Affect Schedule- Negative), suicidal ideation, and symptoms (Depression Anxiety Stress Scales). Results: PAT resulted in greater improvements in positive affect, p .009, d .52, and higher positive affect at 6MFU, p .002, d .67, than NAT. Participants in PAT also reported lower negative affect, p .033, d .52, and lower symptoms of depression, p .035, d .34, anxiety, p .018, d .30, and stress, p .006, d .43 at 6MFU. Finally, probability of suicidal ideation at 6MFU was lower in PAT than NAT (1.7% vs. 12.0%), p .001. Conclusions: Compared to NAT, PAT demonstrated better outcomes (at 6MFU) on positive affect, depression, anxiety, stress, and suicidal ideation, for patients with symptomatic pretreatment levels of these outcomes.
  • ... Positivity deficits appear to be driven in part by frequent and intense self-regulatory efforts (Kashdan, Weeks, Savostyanova, 2011). As an act of self-protection, people with social anxiety disorder try to conceal perceived deficiencies and refrain from expressing intense emotions that might draw unwanted attention (Heimberg et al., 2010;Moscovitch & Huyder, 2011). ...
    Chapter
    Full-text available
    For decades, researchers and practitioners have theorized psychological disorder and health as opposite ends of a single continuum. We offer a more nuanced, data driven examination into the various ways that people with psychological disorders experience well-being. We review research on the positive emotions, meaning and purpose in life, and social relationships of people diagnosed with major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, social anxiety disorder, schizophrenia, and trauma-related disorders. We also discuss when and how friends, family members, and caregivers of these people are adversely impacted in terms of their well-being. Throughout, we highlight important, often overlooked findings that not all people with mental illness are devoid of well-being. This review is meant to be illustrative as opposed to comprehensive, synthesizing existing knowledge and inspiring explorations of unclear or undiscovered territory.
  • ... Moreover, FPE demonstrated strong relations to cognitive tendencies to disqualify positive outcomes (Weeks, 2010;Weeks & Howell, 2012), anxiety about social reprisal from positive feedback (Weeks & Howell, 2012;, and in-the-moment discomfort with positive feedback (Weeks et al., 2008b). Taken together, FPE may be an important factor that contributes to the positivity deficits among individuals with social anxiety (Kashdan et al., 2011). ...
    Article
    Full-text available
    Background: Although fear of negative evaluation (FNE) has long been recognized as a core cognitive bias in social anxiety, fear of positive evaluation (FPE) has received considerable attention over the past several years. The literature would benefit from a synthesis of the current state of the research in order to contribute to our understanding of FPE. Methods: A systematic review of the literature was conducted in order to address several questions: (a) Is self-reported FPE distinct from self-reported FNE? (b) Is self-reported FPE related to social anxiety symptomatology?and (c) Is self-reported FPE uniquely related to social anxiety symptomatology when accounting for self-reported FNE? Inclusion criteria included studies published in English, testing FPE and FNE with trait-based measures, and testing social anxiety with either self-report or diagnostic interviews. Results: There were 33 studies identified in this review that provided convincing empirical support for each of these questions across community and clinical samples of adolescents, undergraduates, and adults.Limitations: The systematic review did not have access to null results, present meta-analytic results, or include studies that evaluated FPE or social anxiety with experimental designs. Conclusions: The findings from the systematic review support updated theoretical models of social anxiety and highlight the importance of assessing and treating FPE in clinical interventions.
  • ... Furthermore, a meta-analysis found that social anxiety is negatively related to positive affect beyond what can be explained by co-occurring depression (Kashdan, 2007). Ecological momentary assessment studies also have found that highly socially anxious people experience less intense positive emotions both when with other people and when alone (Kashdan, Weeks, & Savostyanova, 2011). Moreover, individuals with social anxiety disorder tend to respond negatively to both negative and positive social evaluation (Weeks, Heimberg, Rodebaugh, & Norton, 2008;Weeks & Howell, 2014), suggesting that social events that are rewarding for most people may be processed differently by socially anxious individuals. ...
    Article
    Adaptive social behavior requires learning probabilities of social reward and punishment and updating these probabilities when they change. Given prior research on aberrant reinforcement learning in affective disorders, this study examines how social anxiety affects probabilistic social reinforcement learning and dynamic updating of learned probabilities in a volatile environment. Two hundred and twenty-two online participants completed questionnaires and a computerized ball-catching game with changing probabilities of reward and punishment. Dynamic learning rates were estimated to assess the relative importance ascribed to new information in response to volatility. Mixed-effects regression was used to analyze throw patterns as a function of social anxiety symptoms. Higher social anxiety predicted fewer throws to the previously punishing avatar and different learning rates after certain role changes, suggesting that social anxiety may be characterized by difficulty updating learned social probabilities. Socially anxious individuals may miss the chance to learn that a once-punishing situation no longer poses a threat.
  • Article
    Full-text available
    The importance of developing a better understanding of positive emotion regulation in both healthy and clinical populations is now recognised. This special edition brings together leading figures in the positive emotion regulation field and has contributions characterizing positive phenomena, differentiating them from negative phenomena, and evaluating underlying psychological mechanisms that drive these phenomena. This commentary reviews these articles to highlight challenges and opportunities for this emerging field, including the need to better characterize positive phenomena, to be more explicit about how the links between negative and positive phenomena are conceptualised, to evaluate more robustly underlying mechanisms, to standardize measurement of positive constructs, and to ensure that these scientific findings lead to meaningful changes in real-world policy and practice.
  • Chapter
    This chapter explains whether positive emotions and positive activities counteract the effects of fear and anxiety. It explores the potential of positive clinical psychology for intervening with anxiety disorders. The chapter describes important dysfunctional mechanisms that are common in the anxiety disorders, along with specific positive interventions that research and theory suggest would be effective in counteracting these mechanisms. It then discusses number of mechanisms organized by five more general categories: emotional dysfunctions, cognitive dysfunctions, coping dysfunctions, dysfunctional self-preoccupation, and dysfunctional worldview. It is believed that the final category may be foundational to the other dysfunctions. There appear to be several positive interventions that show promise for intervening with anxiety disorders. The chapter concludes that positive interventions that enhance positive affect, positive attention, and positive interpretations, should help transform one's view of the world into a more benevolent place.
  • Article
    Full-text available
    Objective: The present study aimed to explore the relationship between social anxiety and reaction bias towards different types of potential social opportunities after suffering ostracism. Methods: 110 participants were divided into high-social-anxiety(HSA) or low-social-anxiety(LSA) group by scoring the top or bottom 20% in the Fear of Negative Evaluation Scale. They were also randomly assigned to ostracism group(58 participants) or control group(52 participants), and then received ostracism or control manipulation via a Cyber-ball task. After the manipulation, participants were measured by a manipulation check followed by Satisfaction of Basic Psychological Needs Scale, Modified Interest in Social Contact Questionnaire and Modified Compliance Request Task. Results: Two-way ANOVA showed a significant interaction between SA and ostracism manipulation on volunteering time. LSA group, but not HSA, enrolled more volunteering time after ostracism than control group. Moreover, significant main effects for SA and ostracism manipulation were observed for social interest towards friends and communication online. Conclusion: After ostracism, HSA individuals show compensatory deficits when faced with potential social opportunities for interacting with strangers, but show no compensatory deficits when potential social opportunities are from friends or online.
  • Article
    Objective: Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is empirically supported for the treatment of anxiety disorders; however, not all individuals achieve recovery following CBT. Positive emotions serve a number of functions that theoretically should facilitate response to CBT - they promote flexible patterns of information processing and assimilation of new information, encourage approach-oriented behavior, and speed physiological recovery from negative emotions. We conducted a secondary analysis of an existing clinical trial dataset to test the a priori hypothesis that individual differences in trait positive emotions would predict CBT response for anxiety. Method: Participants meeting diagnostic criteria for panic disorder (n?=?28) or generalized anxiety disorder (n?=?31) completed 10 weekly individual CBT sessions. Trait positive emotionality was assessed at pre-treatment, and severity of anxiety symptoms and associated impairment was assessed throughout treatment. Results: Participants who reported a greater propensity to experience positive emotions at pre-treatment displayed the largest reduction in anxiety symptoms as well as fewer symptoms following treatment. Positive emotions remained a robust predictor of change in symptoms when controlling for baseline depression severity. Conclusions: Initial evidence supports the predictive value of trait positive emotions as a prognostic indicator for CBT outcome in a GAD and PD sample.
  • Article
    Individuals with social anxiety disorder (SAD) have difficulty forming social relationships. The prevailing clinical perspective is that negative emotions such as anxiety inhibit one's capacity to develop satisfying social connections. However, empirical findings from social psychology and affective neuroscience suggest that positive emotional experiences are fundamental to establishing new social bonds. To reconcile these perspectives, we collected repeated measurements of anxiety, positive emotions (pleasantness), and connectedness over the course of a controlled relationship formation encounter in 56 participants diagnosed with SAD (64% female; Mage=23.3, SD=4.7). Participants experienced both increases in positive emotions and decreases in anxiety throughout the interaction. Change in positive emotions was the most robust predictor of subsequent increases in connectedness, as well as a greater desire to engage one's partner in future social activities, above and beyond reductions in anxiety (medium to large sized effects). Those findings suggest that anxiety-based models alone may not fully explain difficulties in relationship formation in SAD, and underscore the potential value of considering positive emotional experiences in conceptual and treatment models of SAD.
  • Article
    Research over the last two decades on the role of positive emotions and cognitions in psychological functioning is leading to conceptual changes regarding the nature of mental disorders and the mechanisms underlying their onset and maintenance. This introduction to the latest breakthrough research on positive emotions and cognition offers a brief description of the emerging presence of positivity in current diagnostic systems like the DSM5 and Research Domain Criteria (RDoC). It also analyzes some select findings from the literature on experimental psychopathology supporting the relevance of examining positive aspects of functioning in clinical psychology. In addition, the study of positive aspects of psychological functioning adds a more conceptually complex understanding of psychopathology. The multiple perspectives encompassed in this special issue shed light on our understanding of the different roles that positive emotions and cognitions play in mediating normal and abnormal human functioning and their importance to improving research methods and interventions in psychopathology.
  • Article
    A growing body of research has examined regulatory flexibility as the ability to dynamically modulate emotional expression and experience (Bonanno & Burton, 2013). The late positive potential (LPP), an event-related potential reflecting processing of emotionally-evocative stimuli, is sensitive to emotion regulation (ER) or the psychological processes that underlie the experience, expression, and management of emotions. However, few studies have used the LPP to index regulatory flexibility or tested its association with self-reported emotional well-being and ER. The results of the current study showed that regulatory flexibility indexed via the LPP was associated with self-reported use of specific ER strategies. Further, greater regulatory flexibility measured as the full LPP regulatory range (indexed following prompts to enhance and suppress emotional responses to stimuli) was specifically and uniquely associated with greater self-reported coping flexibility. Findings provide preliminary support for this neurocognitive approach to conceptualizing and assessing regulatory flexibility.
  • Article
    Background: The mechanisms and triggers of the attentional bias in social anxiety are not yet fully determined, and the modulating role of personality traits is being increasingly acknowledged. Aims: Our main purpose was to test whether social anxiety is associated with mechanisms of hypervigilance, avoidance (static biases), vigilance-avoidance or the maintenance of attention (dynamic biases). Our secondary goal was to explore the role of personality structure in shaping the attention bias. Method: Participants with high vs low social anxiety and different personality structures viewed pairs of faces (free-viewing eye-tracking task) representing different emotions (anger, happiness and neutrality). Their eye movements were registered and analysed for both whole-trial (static) and time-dependent (dynamic) measures. Results: Comparisons between participants with high and low social anxiety levels did not yield evidence of differences in eye-tracking measures for the whole trial (latency of first fixation, first fixation direction, total dwell time), but the two groups differed in the time course of overt attention during the trial (dwell time across three successive time segments): participants with high social anxiety were slower in disengaging their attention from happy faces. Similar results were obtained using a full-sample, regression-based analysis. Conclusion: Our results speak in favour of a maintenance bias in social anxiety. Preliminary results indicated that personality structure may not affect the maintenance (dynamic) bias of socially anxious individuals, although depressive personality structures may favour manifestations of a (static) hypervigilance bias.
  • Article
    Emerging evidence suggests that increased negative emotions and maladaptive emotion regulation (ER) strategies underlie social anxiety disorder (SAD) and alcohol related problems, but little is known about how specific negative emotions and maladaptive ER strategies interact with one another in predicting drinking in daily life. This study aimed to investigate (1) the impact of within-person level negative emotions and maladaptive ER strategies on drinking among individuals with SAD, and (2) the moderating effect of specific maladaptive ER strategies (avoidance, rumination, suppression) on the relationship between negative emotions and alcohol craving in daily life via an ecological momentary assessment (EMA). Results revealed that the SAD group (n = 66) showed a higher increase rate in alcohol craving when they were socially anxious, tense and lonely than the non-SAD group (n = 53). In moderation analyses, maladaptive ER strategies interacted with negative emotions in predicting alcohol craving and different patterns were observed between groups: rumination was a significant moderator for the SAD group, while avoidance was for the non-SAD group in both concurrent and lagged effect analyses. Implications for the future research and interventions on daily negative emotions and maladaptive ER strategies are discussed.
  • Article
    Social anxiety disorder (SAD) often involves difficulty developing relationships. Facial expressions are important in relationship formation, but data are limited regarding facial display production among persons with SAD during social interaction. The current study compared facial displays of individuals diagnosed with SAD (n = 41) to control participants (n = 24) as they interacted with a confederate; confederates and observers then rated their desire for future interaction with participants. Automated software used the Facial Action Coding System to classify displays. During portions of the interaction that involved listening to partners, the SAD group smiled less frequently and less intensely than controls, and less smiling was associated with others’ lower desire for future interaction with participants. Diminished positive facial affect in response to interaction partners may disrupt relationship formation in SAD and may serve as an effective treatment target.
  • Article
    Full-text available
    When individuals hold positive interpersonal expectations, social exclusion provokes individuals to positively engage in restoring unsatisfied basic psychological needs, so as to reconnect to others. However, individuals with social anxiety tend to show distinct response tendency from individuals in general, or psychological need compensatory deficits, after social exclusion. The differences specifically lie in cognitive, emotional, physiological, neural, as well as behavioral responses. Furthermore, four underlying psychological mechanism behind the formation of the response bias were presented based on cognition belief, social monitoring system, self-regulation ability, and ruminant processing. Future research directions were discussed.
  • Article
    Recent research has investigated how adaptive emotion regulation (ER) strategies and maladaptive ER strategies interact to predict symptoms, but little is known about how specific strategies interact with one another when used in daily life. The present investigation used daily diary data collected over two weeks from an unselected student sample (N = 109) to examine how reappraisal, a putatively adaptive ER strategy, interacts on a given occasion (within-person) and across occasions (between-person) with putatively maladaptive ER strategies (rumination, experiential avoidance, expressive suppression) to predict daily depression and social anxiety symptoms. Results revealed between-person interactions of reappraisal with rumination and experiential avoidance, wherein reappraisal was most negatively related to symptoms for individuals who frequently used rumination and experiential avoidance. There was a similar within-person interaction between reappraisal and expressive suppression. Implications for assessing daily and retrospective ER are discussed, as well as future directions for studying ER in daily life.
  • Article
    Full-text available
    Social anxiety disorder (SAD) is a common and impairing condition that emerges in early adolescence, confers significant interpersonal disability and often persists into adulthood. Prevailing interventions for socially anxious youth are largely based on cognitive-behavioral models originally developed in adult samples, but produce only modest rates of remission in adolescents. The purposes of this review are to examine plausible explanations for these modest rates of treatment response and to critically evaluate the relevance of developmental mechanisms related to reward circuitry function. In doing so, we propose Sensitivity Shift Theory (SST), an integrated theoretical model addressing the development of social anhedonia in a meaningful subset of adolescents and adults with SAD. The central prediction of SST involves a shift, or developmental transition from social sensitivity during the late childhood/early adolescent period into later-emerging social anhedonia that includes reductions in positive affect, infrequent social approach behaviors and social skills deficits. We further provide a complementary mechanistic account by which these newly identified processes may be addressed using available evidence-based treatments that influence positive affect, including mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs). Collectively, SST provides a mechanisms-focused framework for explaining relatively modest rates of response to current front-line treatments in socially anxious youth, as well as discrepant observations in SAD samples of both high- and low- levels of social motivation depending on developmental factors and learning history.
  • Article
    Full-text available
    Randomized controlled trials have demonstrated that mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) is efficacious in reducing residual depressive symptoms and preventing future depressive episodes (Kuyken et al., 2016). One potential treatment effect of MBCT may be improvement of positive affect (PA), due to improved awareness of daily positive events (Geschwind et al., 2011). Considering social anxiety disorder (SAD) is characterized by diminished PA (Brown et al., 1998; Kashdan, 2007), we sought to determine whether MBCT would reduce social anxiety symptoms, and whether this reduction would be associated with improvement of PA deficits. Adults (N = 22) who met criteria for varied anxiety disorders participated in a small, open-label trial of an 8-week manualized MBCT intervention. Most participants presented with either a diagnosis (primary, secondary, or tertiary) of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) (N = 15) and/or SAD (N = 14) prior to treatment, with eight individuals meeting diagnostic criteria for both GAD and SAD. We hypothesized participants would demonstrate improvements in social anxiety symptoms, which would be predicted by improvements in PA, not reductions in negative affect (NA). Results of several hierarchical linear regression analyses (completed in both full and disorder-specific samples) indicated that improvements in PA but not reductions in NA predicted social anxiety improvement. This effect was not observed for symptoms of worry, which were instead predicted by decreased NA for individuals diagnosed with GAD and both decreased NA and increased PA in the entire sample. Results suggest that MBCT may be efficacious in mitigating social anxiety symptoms, and this therapeutic effect may be linked to improvements in PA. However, further work is necessary considering the small, heterogeneous sample, uncontrolled study design, and exploratory nature of the study.
  • Thesis
    Full-text available
    Some authors have been suggesting that individuals with social anxiety (SA) have an attentional bias for the processing of threatening information leading to misinterpretation of the social context. However, the explanatory current theoretical models of this bias are not convergent because the results of the studies are somewhat consensual. In this context, the aim of this study was, at first, to evaluate the relationship between attentional path to emotional face stimuli and symptoms of SA and, secondly, notice the attention to emotional face stimuli was influenced by personality traits of subjects with symptoms of SA. For this purpose, we evaluated 55 participants from the general population (43 women and 12 men) with a mean age of 21.25 (± 2.723) years and a mean education of 14.00 (± 1.61) years. All subjects answered a questionnaire of social anxiety symptoms and an instrument of personality and psychopathology (Millon Multiaxial Clinical Inventory-III) and subsequently allocated in to two different groups (control vs. SA), according to the clinical level (high and low) of social anxiety. All participants completed a visual task where they were exposed to emotional (happy and angry) and neutral facial stimuli. Registration of attention was obtained using the eye-tracking device. The main results show that the group with SA presents greater difficulty disengaging attention from emotional stimuli (positive and negative) compared to control group. The results of the second analysis suggest that subjects with SA and dependency traits of personality appear difficult to disengage attention of positive stimuli. In contrast, subjects with depressive and phobic traits appear to avoid happy stimuli. The results are discussed in light of current literature on the study of attentional components in subjects with SA.
  • Article
    Background Social anxiety (SA) is highly comorbid with alcohol use disorder (AUD). Alcohol may be negatively reinforcing for SA individuals by dampening post-event rumination (i.e., negative rumination following social interactions). Prior research has supported this hypothesis with negative rumination. Depression, commonly comorbid with SA and AUD, also features rumination.Method Through secondary analyses, we examined the effects of alcohol consumption before an in-lab social interaction and depressive symptoms on both negative and positive post-event rumination about the interaction. Ninety-four high SA undergraduates were randomized to consume alcohol or no alcohol before the interaction; depressive symptoms were measured. Post-event rumination was measured three days later.ResultsThose higher (vs lower) in depressive symptoms reported more negative rumination. Those randomized to the alcohol (vs no alcohol) condition reported more positive rumination after the interaction.Conclusions Individuals with SA may find alcohol positively reinforcing by increasing positive post-event rumination, independent of negative reinforcement effects. Clinical implications are discussed.
Literature Review
  • Article
    The effect of a grateful outlook on psychological and physical well-being was examined. In Studies 1 and 2, participants were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 experimental conditions (hassles, gratitude listing, and either neutral life events or social comparison); they then kept weekly (Study 1) or daily (Study 2) records of their moods, coping behaviors, health behaviors, physical symptoms, and overall life appraisals. In a 3rd study, persons with neuromuscular disease were randomly assigned to either the gratitude condition or to a control condition. The gratitude-outlook groups exhibited heightened well-being across several, though not all, of the outcome measures across the 3 studies, relative to the comparison groups. The effect on positive affect appeared to be the most robust finding. Results suggest that a conscious focus on blessings may have emotional and interpersonal benefits.
  • Article
    A substantial literature indicates that anxiety is often associated with selective attention to threat cues. Socially anxious individuals are excessively concerned about negative evaluation by others. One might therefore predict that high social anxiety would be associated with selective attention to negative facial expressions. On the other hand, some recent models have suggested that social anxiety may be associated with reduced processing of external social cues. A modified dot-probe task was used to investigate face attention. High and low socially anxious individuals were presented with pairs of pictures, consisting of a face (positive, neutral, or negative) and a household object, under conditions of social-evaluative threat or no threat. The results indicated that, compared to low socially anxious individuals, high socially anxious individuals show an attentional bias away from emotional (positive and negative) faces but this effect is only observed under conditions of social-evaluative threat. Theoretical and clinical implications of the results are discussed.
  • Article
    Ostracism is such a widely used and powerful tactic that the authors tested whether people would be affected by it even under remote and artificial circumstances. In Study 1, 1,486 participants from 62 countries accessed the authors' on-line experiment on the Internet. They were asked to use mental visualization while playing a virtual tossing game with two others (who were actually computer generated and controlled). Despite the minimal nature of their experience, the more participants were ostracized, the more they reported feeling bad, having less control, and losing a sense of belonging. In Study 2, ostracized participants were more likely to conform on a subsequent task. The results are discussed in terms of supporting K. D. Williams's (1997) need threat theory of ostracism.
  • Article
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  • Article
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  • Article
    This article reports the development and validation of a scale to measure global life satisfaction, the Satisfaction With Life Scale (SWLS). Among the various components of subjective well-being, the SWLS is narrowly focused to assess global life satisfaction and does not tap related constructs such as positive affect or loneliness. The SWLS is shown to have favorable psychometric properties, including high internal consistency and high temporal reliability. Scores on the SWLS correlate moderately to highly with other measures of subjective well-being, and correlate predictably with specific personality characteristics. It is noted that the SWLS is suited for use with different age groups, and other potential uses of the scale are discussed.
  • Article
    Socially anxious people often report high negative affect (NA) and low positive affect (PA). This mood state may be associated with elevated or undesired social evaluation, such as interactions with unfamiliar people or poor quality communication. In this study, high and low anxious undergraduates completed structured diaries assessing interaction partner familiarity, quality of communication, PA, and NA after conversations in their natural environment. Results supported hypotheses of higher NA and lower quality of communication in the anxious group. In addition, quality of communication and familiarity were differently related to NA in the high versus low anxious groups. Results suggest that social-interaction parameters affect high anxious individuals' mood. Implications of the current social interaction based results are contrasted with time-interval diary research.
  • Article
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  • Article
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  • Article
    Based on hierarchical models of emotional disorders, relationships between higher- and lower-order components of anxiety and depression and emotion-congruent cognitive biases were examined. Two groups of participants (n=189) were selected based on their scores on General Distress (the nonspecific factor of anxiety and depression). They performed an explicit memory test of incidentally-learned selfreferenced material and an emotional Stroop interference task, using three types of stimuli: anxiety-related, depression-related and neutral non-valenced words. It was hypothesized that an attentional bias for anxiety-relevant words and a memory bias for depression-relevant words would be best predicted by anxiety-related and depression-related measures, respectively. Strengthening the notion that demonstration of these types of biases is not reliable in subclinical populations, both a correlational analysis as well as a more powerful extreme group analysis could not detect the existence of any emotion-related cognitive biases.
  • Article
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  • Article
    Full-text available
    The personality construct of alexithymia is thought to reflect a deficit in the cognitive processing and regulation of emotional states. To explore the relations between alexithymia and emotional responding, 50 older adults (28 men, 22 women) were studied across different contexts: (1) initial exposure to an emotion‐evoking movie; (2) second exposure to that stimulus; (3) reports of rumination and social sharing; and (4) describing their emotional response (verbal re‐evocation). Facets of the alexithymia construct were associated at the initial exposure with lower emotional responses at the cognitive‐experiential level, but with higher emotional responses at the physiological level as measured by heart rate. At the second exposure, the results were replicated for physiological responses. Certain facets of alexithymia were associated also with lower reports of rumination and social sharing involving emotional aspects, and with a lower proportion of emotional words related to the emotional stimulus during the verbal re‐evocation.
  • Article
    It is typically assumed that people always want to feel good. Recent evidence, however, demonstrates that people want to feel unpleasant emotions, such as anger or fear, when these emotions promote the attainment of their long-term goals. If emotions are regulated for instrumental reasons, people should want to feel pleasant emotions when immediate benefits outweigh future benefits, but when future benefits outweigh immediate benefits, people may prefer to feel useful emotions, even if they are unpleasant. In this article, I describe an instrumental account of emotion regulation, review empirical evidence relevant to it, and discuss its implications for promoting adaptive emotional experiences.
  • Article
    Cognitive-behavioral theorists have proposed that fear of negative evaluation (FNE) is the core feature of social anxiety (Clark & Wells, 1995; Rapee & Heimberg, 1997). However, emerging evidence supports the notion that fear of evaluation in general is important in social anxiety, including fear of positive evaluation (FPE) as well as negative evaluation (e.g., see Weeks, Heimberg, & Rodebaugh, 2008; Weeks, Heimberg, Rodebaugh, & Norton, 2008). The purposes of the present study were to test several new hypotheses related to this expanded conceptualization of social anxiety, as well as to replicate the two-factor structural model consisting of separate factors for fears of positive and negative evaluation originally reported by Weeks, Heimberg, and Rodebaugh, et al. (2008). The present findings further support FPE and FNE as distinct latent constructs. FPE and FNE related similarly to social anxiety but demonstrated unique relationships with several social anxiety-related constructs and emerged as distinct from several discriminant constructs with strong thematic overlap to FPE/FNE. The findings from the present study provide additional support for the hypothesis that fear of evaluation in general is important in social anxiety.
  • Article
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    The majority of definitions, research studies, and treatment programs that focus on social anxiety characterize the prototypical person with the disorder as shy, submissive, inhibited, and risk averse. This stereotype, however, has been challenged recently. Specifically, a subset of people with social anxiety who are aggressive, impulsive novelty seekers deviate from that prototype. People with this atypical profile show greater functional impairment and are less likely to complete or fare well in treatment compared with inhibited socially anxious people. The difference between these two groups of people with social anxiety cannot be explained by the severity, type, or number of social fears, nor by co-occurring anxiety and mood disorders. Conclusions about the nature, course, and treatment of social anxiety may be compromised by not attending to diverse behaviors and self-regulatory styles. These concerns may be compounded in neurobiological and clinical studies of people with social anxiety problems that rely on smaller samples to make claims about brain patterns and the efficacy of particular treatments.
  • Article
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    Several literatures converge on the idea that approach and positive affect related to goal pursuit are managed by one self-regulatory system and that avoidance (or withdrawal) and negative affect related to threats are managed by a second self-regulatory system. After briefly reviewing these literatures, the authors consider the relation of these themes to the broader domain of personality. In particular, they map individual differences in the responsivity of the approach system onto the personality dimension of extraversion and map individual differences in the responsivity of the withdrawal system onto the dimension of neuroticism. This mapping requires a slight refocusing of current conceptions of extraversion and neuroticism. However, such a refocusing brings a gain as well as a cost: In particular, it would embed these dimensions more explicitly in a process-oriented conceptualization of action control.
  • Article
    This study examined responsiveness of the dot probe measure of attentional bias to standard cognitive-behaviour group therapy (CBGT) for social phobia. People who met criteria for social phobia were randomly allocated to either an immediate treatment condition or a waiting list control (WLC). All participants completed self-report measures of social anxiety, depression, and anxiety sensitivity, a verbal dot probe and a facial dot-probe task before and after eight weeks of standard CBGT was undertaken by the treatment group. On the first measurement occasion the two groups had similar scores on all measures. On the second measurement occasion the self-report scores for the CBGT group were lower than those of the WLC group. Performance on the dot-probe tasks for the CBGT group had also changed. The treatment group appeared to direct their attention away from social threat words and threatening faces after CBGT.
  • Article
    Interest in mindfulness and its enhancement has burgeoned in recent years. In this article, we discuss in detail the nature of mindfulness and its relation to other, established theories of attention and awareness in day-to-day life. We then examine theory and evidence for the role of mindfulness in curtailing negative functioning and enhancing positive outcomes in several important life domains, including mental health, physical health, behavioral regulation, and interpersonal relationships. The processes through which mindfulness is theorized to have its beneficial effects are then discussed, along with proposed directions for theoretical development and empirical research.
  • Article
    Nothing is more familiar to people than their moods and emotions. Oddly, however, it is not clear how these two kinds of affective processes are related. Intuitively, it makes sense that emotional reactions are stronger when they are congruent with a preexisting mood, an idea reinforced by contemporary emotion theory. Yet empirically, it is uncertain whether moods actually facilitate emotional reactivity to mood-congruent stimuli. One approach to the question of how moods affect emotions is to study mood-disturbed individuals. This review describes recent experimental studies of emotional reactivity conducted with individuals suffering from major depression. Counter to intuitions, major depression is associated with reduced emotional reactivity to sad contexts. A novel account of emotions in depression is advanced to assimilate these findings. Implications for the study of depression and normal mood variation are considered.
  • Article
    Ostracism is readily detected and results in a number of negative reactions. For example, social exclusion is argued to interfere with self-regulation. Some recent work found that the negative effects of ostracism are more pronounced and prolonged in socially anxious people. Based on these findings we tested whether: (1) ostracism impairs self-regulation, and (2) such impairment persists longer in socially anxious people, as classified through the Fear of Negative Evaluation Scale (FNE). In Study 1, we found that relative to included participants (nonostracized controls), ostracized participants reported higher felt ostracism and ate more unhealthy but palatable biscuits at Time 1. After a 45-minute delay, only ostracized participants with higher levels of social anxiety reported continued felt ostracism and excessive eating. Similarly, in Study 2, self-regulation was defined as consuming an unpleasant, but healthy, beverage. We again observed a pattern of prolonged regulatory impairment only for ostracized socially anxious participants. Implications for the long-term impact of the exclusion of the socially anxious are discussed, as are the limitations of relying on the FNE as the sole measure of social anxiety.
  • Article
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    A substantial literature indicates that anxiety is often associated with selec- tive attention to threat cues. Socially anxious individuals are excessively concerned about negative evaluation by others. One might therefore predict that high social anxiety would be associated with selective attention to negative facial expressions. On the other hand, some recent models have suggested that social anxiety may be associated with reduced processing of external social cues. A modi® ed dot-probe task was used to investigate face attention. High and low socially anxious individuals were presented with pairs of pictures, consisting of a face (positive, neutral, or negative) and a household object, under conditions of social-evaluative threat or no threat. The results indicated that, compared to low socially anxious individuals, high socially anxious individuals show an attentional bias away from emotional (positive and negative) faces but this effect is only observed under conditions of social-evaluative threat. Theoretical and clinical implications of the results are discussed.
  • Article
    Academic examination stress impairs regulatory behavior by consuming self-control strength (Oaten & Cheng, 2005). In this study, we tested whether a study intervention program, a form of repeated practice of self-control, could improve regulatory strength and dampen the debilitating effects of exam stress. We assessed 2 cohorts at baseline and again at the commencement of exams. Without any intervention, we replicated our previous findings of deteriorations in regulatory behaviors at exam time. Students receiving the study program, however, showed significant improvement in self-regulatory capacity as shown by an enhanced performance on a visual tracking task following a thought-suppression task. During examinations, these participants also reported significant decreases in smoking, alcohol, and caffeine consumption and an increase in healthy eating, emotional control, maintenance of household chores, attendance to commitments, monitoring of spending, and an improvement in study habits. Hence, the study program not only overcame deficits caused by exam stress but actually led to improvements in self-control even during exam time.
  • Article
    How accurately can people remember how they felt in the past? Although some investigators hold that emotional memories are resistant to change, we review evidence that current emotions, appraisals, and coping efforts, as well as personality traits, are all associated with bias in recalling past emotions. Bias occurs as memories of emotional states are updated in light of subsequent experience and goals. Biased memories in turn influence future plans and emotions, and may contribute to the formation of enduring personality traits. People's memories for emotions provide highly condensed and accessible summaries of the relevance of past experiences to current goals.
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    Over twenty years of research have examined the cognitive consequences of positive affect states, and suggested that positive affect leads to a broadening of cognition (see review by Fredrickson, 2001). However, this research has primarily examined positive affect that is low in approach motivational intensity (e.g., contentment). More recently, we have systematically examined positive affect that varies in approach motivational intensity, and found that positive affect high in approach motivation (e.g., desire) narrows cognition, whereas positive affect low in approach motivation broadens cognition (e.g., Gable & Harmon-Jones, 2008a21. Gable , P. A. and Harmon-Jones , E. 2008a . Approach-motivated positive affect reduces breadth of attention . Psychological Science , 19 : 476 – 482 . [CrossRef], [PubMed], [Web of Science ®]View all references; Harmon-Jones & Gable, 2009). In this article we will review past models and present a motivational dimension model of affect that expands understanding of how affective states influence attentional and cognitive breadth. We then review research that has varied the motivational intensity of positive and negative affect and found that affect of low motivational intensity broadens cognitive processes, whereas affect of high motivational intensity narrows cognitive processes.
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    Positive psychologists have developed a variety of techniques to increase well-being. This study explored whether preferences for some interventions are linked to preferences for other interventions. A total of 792 participants received up to six positive psychology exercises. After each exercise, participants indicated their preference for each exercise and how often they engaged in it. A factor analysis of these scores revealed three groupings of subjective preferences: active-constructive responding and savoring; blessings and life summary; and gratitude visit and strengths. Individuals who had high preference for an exercise were more likely to complete the exercise. Implications for application of positive psychology exercises and future recommendations are discussed including the use of such a framework for tailoring custom programs of interventions.
  • Article
    This book describes the clinical presentation of social anxiety disorder, presents theoretical perspectives on its etiology, and examines the latest empirical data with respect to both pharmacological and behavioral interventions. Social anxiety disorder occurs in children, adolescents, and adults, but its manifestation and treatment differ depending on developmental factors. Drawing from a broad literature base as well as their extensive clinical experience, the authors illustrate the impact of developmental stage on all aspects of the disorder. They also provide practical implementation guidelines, enhanced by case examples; tips on patient management; lists of assessment instruments; and sample forms to use with clients. Since publication of the first edition in 1998, knowledge about social anxiety disorder has advanced on several fronts. The new edition includes information from new studies differentiating patterns of distress characteristic of social anxiety disorder versus shyness. It draws on more substantive data bases to support firmer conclusions about the presentation of social anxiety disorder among children and adolescents as well as across various ethnocultural groups. New assessment strategies reviewed in this book include neuroanatomical assessment using magnetic resonance imaging and well-validated self-report instruments and clinician rating scales. The authors review a greatly expanded literature addressing pharmacological treatment and psychosocial treatments. New case descriptions and clinical materials are also included. This highly informative and comprehensive volume will be illuminating reading for practitioners, researchers, and students. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
  • Article
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    W. Wilson's (1967) review of the area of subjective well-being (SWB) advanced several conclusions regarding those who report high levels of "happiness." A number of his conclusions have been overturned: youth and modest aspirations no longer are seen as prerequisites of SWB. E. Diener's (1984) review placed greater emphasis on theories that stressed psychological factors. In the current article, the authors review current evidence for Wilson's conclusions and discuss modern theories of SWB that stress dispositional influences, adaptation, goals, and coping strategies. The next steps in the evolution of the field are to comprehend the interaction of psychological factors with life circumstances in producing SWB, to understand the causal pathways leading to happiness, understand the processes underlying adaptation to events, and develop theories that explain why certain variables differentially influence the different components of SWB (life satisfaction, pleasant affect, and unpleasant affect). (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
  • Article
    Emotional processes influence a wide range of mental and physical systems, which makes them difficult to understand from a single perspective. In this special issue of the Review of General Psychology, contributing authors present 4 articles that draw from several areas within psychology in the service of understanding a topic relevant to emotion. In this overview, the authors argue that the long neglect of the scientific study of complex processes such as emotion might be linked, in part, to the fractionation of the field into specialized subdisciplines. Just as emotions were of central concern in the early years of psychology (which was a generalist's era), as psychology moves toward more integration in the late 20th century broad phenomena such as emotions are once again central interests. The 4 articles of this special issue are briefly reviewed as exemplars of an integrated approach to understanding emotional phenomena. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
  • Article
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  • Article
    The pursuit of happiness is an important goal for many people. However, surprisingly little scientific research has focused on the question of how happiness can be increased and then sustained, probably because of pessimism engendered by the concepts of genetic determinism and hedonic adaptation. Nevertheless, emerging sources of optimism exist regarding the possibility of permanent increases in happiness. Drawing on the past well-being literature, the authors propose that a person's chronic happiness level is governed by 3 major factors: a genetically determined set point for happiness, happiness-relevant circumstantial factors, and happiness-relevant activities and practices. The authors then consider adaptation and dynamic processes to show why the activity category offers the best opportunities for sustainably increasing happiness. Finally, existing research is discussed in support of the model, including 2 preliminary happiness-increasing interventions. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
  • Article
    Full-text available
    Counseling psychologists often work with clients to increase their well-being as well as to decrease their distress. One important aspect of well-being, highlighted particularly in humanistic theories of the counseling process, is perceived meaning in life. However, poor measurement has hampered research on meaning in life. In 3 studies, evidence is provided for the internal consistency, temporal stability, factor structure, and validity of the Meaning in Life Questionnaire (MLQ), a new 10-item measure of the presence of, and the search for, meaning in life. A multitrait-multimethod matrix demonstrates the convergent and discriminant validity of the MLQ subscales across time and informants, in comparison with 2 other meaning scales. The MLQ offers several improvements over current meaning in life measures, including no item overlap with distress measures, a stable factor structure, better discriminant validity, a briefer format, and the ability to measure the search for meaning.
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