Psychology, Department of


Date of this Version



J Anxiety Disord. 2009 January ; 23(1): 18–26.


Copyright © 2008 Elsevier Ltd. Used by permission.


Physiological theories may be important in the development and maintenance of social phobia in youth. A limited literature base indicates that youth with social phobia experience increases in objective physiological arousal during social-evaluative situations and are more aware of such increases compared to nonanxious youth. Recent research suggests that youth with social phobia also evidence heightened levels of anxiety sensitivity, which may lead to interpretation of physiological arousal as dangerous or distressing, and, as a result, in avoidance of situations which produce increased physiological arousal. The purpose of the current study was to examine interaction among objective physiological arousal, perceived physiological arousal, and anxiety sensitivity among adolescents diagnosed with social phobia. A sample of community adolescents participated in two anxiety-provoking tasks during which objective physiological arousal was monitored, and after which perceived physiological arousal and anxiety sensitivity were evaluated. Results from this study evidenced no differences between social phobic and nonanxious adolescents with regard to objective physiological arousal during either anxiety-provoking tasks. Adolescents with social phobia, however, were more aware of measured increases in physiological arousal, as well as more afraid of the potential social implications of that arousal compared to nonanxious adolescents. Implications for theory and treatment are discussed.

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