Low implicit self-esteem and dysfunctional automatic associations in social anxiety disorder
Number of pages
SourceJournal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 44, 2, (2013), pp. 262-270
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ BSI KLP
SW OW PsKI [owi]
Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry
SubjectExperimental Psychopathology and Treatment
Background and Objectives Negative automatic associations towards the self and social cues are assumed to play an important role in social anxiety disorder. We tested whether social anxiety disorder patients (n = 45) showed stronger dysfunctional automatic associations than non-clinical controls (n = 45) and panic disorder patients (n = 24) and whether there existed gender differences in this respect. Methods We used a single-target Implicit Association Test and an Implicit Association Test to measure dysfunctional automatic associations with social cues and implicit self-esteem, respectively. Results Results showed that automatic associations with social cues were more dysfunctional in socially anxious patients than in both control groups, suggesting this might be a specific characteristic of social anxiety disorder. Socially anxious patients showed relatively low implicit self-esteem compared to non-clinical controls, whereas panic disorder patients scored in between both groups. Unexpectedly, we found that lower implicit self-esteem was related to higher severity of social anxiety symptoms in men, whereas no such relationship was found in women. Conclusions These findings support the view that automatic negative associations with social cues and lowered implicit self-esteem may both help to enhance our understanding of the cognitive processes that underlie social anxiety disorder.
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