Impact of negative self-presentation concerns on social anxiety during presentation

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Boggs, LuRita
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Moscovitch and Huyder (2010) propose three domains of self-attributes that are related to the experience of anxiety in social situations. Specifically, they propose that individuals are concerned about deficits in appearance, visibility of anxiety symptoms, and social competence. This new model of social anxiety has been evaluated in only a limited number of studies. The current study will examine whether concerns about deficits in appearance, visibility of anxiety symptoms, and social competence are related to anxiety experienced during a talk on a controversial topic.
Washburn University INTRODUCTION PARTICIPANTS Apeiron Spring 2010 Negative Self-Portrayal Scale (NSPS; Moscovitch, under review)  Measure consists of three subscales assessing concerns proposed to serve as fear stimuli for socially anxious individuals:  Physical appearance subscale Social competence subscale Anxiety symptoms subscale Consists of 27 items which are rated on a 0-5 scale, with descriptive anchors being “not at all concerned,” “slightly concerned,” “moderately concerned,” “very concerned,” and “extremely concerned. Speech Rating Form – Participant Version (SRF-P; Norton & Hope 2001) Consists of the following three items:  Please rate the greatest amount of anxiety you experienced during your presentation by circling the appropriate number (0 = totally relaxed; 100 = severely anxious).  Please rate the quality of your presentation. Indicate how well you communicated what you wanted to say by circling the appropriate number (0 = unable to speak; 100 = able to communicate what I wanted).  Please rate how concerned you felt about your physical appearance/looks while giving your speech (0 = unconcerned; 100 = extremely concerned). Speech Rating Form – Observer Version (SRF - O; Norton & Hope, 2001) A modified version of the SRF-P.  Wording of the 3 items was changed so that the form could be completed by an observer. Impact of Negative Self-Presentation Concerns on Social Anxiety During a Presentation LuRita Boggs Mentor: Cynthia L. Turk, Ph.D. Participants were 72 students (34 women) with complete data from a small Midwestern university. Ages varied from 18 years old to 49 years old (M = 23.4, SD = 6.2). Regarding race, 67% identified themselves as Caucasian, 13% identified themselves as African American, 11% identified themselves as Latino/a, 3% identified themselves as having mixed heritage ,1% identified themselves as Asian American, and 5% indicated other ethnicities. PROCEDURE DISCUSSION MEASURES (Continued) RESULTS The results lend support to Moscovitch’s theory that concerns about anxiety symptoms, social competence, and physical appearance are associated with social anxiety. In the current study, these domains of concern were associated with both a trait measure (i.e., fear of negative evaluation scale) and a state measure (i.e., SRF-P anxiety) of social anxiety. Results also replicated previous research showing that socially anxious individuals are more critical of themselves than others are of them in term of visibility of anxiety symptoms and performance quality. Consistent with Moscovitch’s model, observers were also less concerned about the socially anxious individuals’ appearance than the socially anxious individuals were. Although concerns about physical appearance in social anxiety have not been widely studied in the literature, the current study found these concerns to be associated with social anxiety and to be distorted relative to the perception of others. Concerns about physical appearance may be an important therapy target for socially anxious individuals. A limitation of the current study is that reliability ratings for the observer were not available. Future research may wish to examine whether sex differences exist on any of the variables examined in this study. Participants were recruited via a sign-up sheet outside of the psychology department and by word of mouth. Participants were run individually. After completing informed consent, participants were given two questionnaires (FNE, NSPS). Similar to the procedure used by Wong and Moulds (2009), the participants were asked to choose between one of two different controversial topics (i.e., Advantages and Disadvantages of the Death Penalty; Advantages and Disadvantages of Animal Testing) for a presentation. The participants were then given one minute to prepare for their three minute speech. They were informed that the experimenter and two research assistants would be making ratings about their performance and that they would also be asked to rate their own performance. The participants spoke in front of a video camera and the experimenter for three minutes. After rating their performance on the SRF-P, participants were debriefed and dismissed. The experimenter, who was blind to the participant’s questionnaire scores, rated the performance on the SRF-O. The participant was then thanked and debriefed. 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 Anxiety Symptoms Performance Quality Concern about Appearance Participant Observer Figure 1. Participant and Observer Ratings of Speech Dimensions The core feature of social anxiety is fear of negative evaluation by others. Socially anxious individuals judge themselves as likely to be evaluated negatively by others in part due to a discrepancy between their perceptions of themselves and how others perceive them. Specifically, socially anxious individuals have been shown to view themselves in a much harsher light than others. Most of this research has focused on the dimensions of concern about adequacy of social performance and visibility of anxiety symptoms (Norton & Hope 2001). Much less research has focused on the role of concerns about physical appearance in social anxiety. Recently, Moscovitch (2010) has proposed a theoretical model of social phobia that includes an explicit emphasis on the relevance of concerns about physical appearance to social anxiety. Moscovitch (under review) has suggested that the fear stimuli for social anxiety are best described as falling into three categories of concern about inadequacy: (1) physical appearance, (2) anxiety symptoms, and (3) social competence. However, little research has addressed the relevance of all three of these dimensions to social anxiety. The following hypotheses were tested: 1) Higher scores on the dimensions of physical appearance, anxiety symptoms, and social competence would be associated with higher scores on a trait measure of fear of negative evaluation and state measure of anxiety during a public speaking task. 2) Previous research findings that socially anxious participants rate their overall anxiety as higher and their performance as poorer than an observer would be replicated. 3) Socially anxious individuals would rate their anxiety about their looks during a speech task as greater than an observer. NSPS Anxiety Symptoms NSPS Physical Appearance NSPS Social Competence Fear of Negative Evaluation Scale .515* .507* .547* SRF-Participant Anxiety during the Speech .425* .410* .383* MEASURES Fear of Negative Evaluation Scale (FNE; Watson & Friend, 1969) Measures distress and concerns related to being judged by others Consists of 30 items rated as “true” or “false.” Individuals scoring 20 or higher on the FNE were classified as highly socially anxious (Wong & Moulds, 2009). Consistent with predictions, the NSPS subscales of physical appearance, anxiety symptoms, and social competence were significantly positively correlated with fear of negative evaluation and SRF-P anxiety during the speech for the whole sample. See Table 1. Table 1. Correlation of NSPS subscales and Measures of Social Anxiety Note. *p < .05. Three paired samples t-test were used to compare participant versus observer ratings on the three NSPS subscales. Only highly anxious individuals were used in this analysis (n = 16). Consistent with predictions, all analyses revealed significant differences between participant and observer ratings. See Figure 1. TM