Psychology, Department of



Debra A. Hope

Date of this Version



Journal of Anxiety Disorders 6:1 (1992), pp. 63–77.

doi: 10.1016/0887-6185(92)90027-5


Copyright © 1992 Pergamon Press/Elsevier. Used by permission.


Although social phobia is defined as severe anxiety in social situations, little is known about the range or prevalence of social situations that elicit anxiety in social phobic individuals. The present study developed the concept of situational domains, groups of similar situations that may provoke anxiety in subsets of social anxious persons. Four conceptually derived situational domains were examined: formal speaking/interaction, informal speaking/interaction, observation by others, and assertion. Ninety-one social phobic patients were classified as anxiety-positive or anxiety-negative within each situational domain, varying inclusion criteria of anxiety experienced in each situation and the number of anxiety-producing situations within a domain. Patients were highly likely to be classified to the formal speaking/interaction domain, regardless of inclusion criteria employed or presence of anxiety within other domains. Support was also found for previous findings that most social phobics experience anxiety in more than one social situation, even under conservative classification criteria. Implications for the current diagnostic nosology and directions for future research are discussed.

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