Psychology, Department of



Debra A. Hope

Date of this Version



Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy: An International Quarterly 4:2 (1990), pp. 185–195.


Copyright © 1990 Springer Publishing Company. Used by permission.


Sixty subjects classified as high or low in social anxiety participated in a structured heterosocial interaction under conditions of either high or low social-evaluative threat. Following the interaction, subjects were asked to recall detailed information about the interaction partner’s appearance and the content of the conversation. Socially anxious subjects recalled less information and made more errors in recall than nonanxious subjects. Contrary to prediction, social-evaluative threat did not affect recall. Anxious subjects also reported greater self-focused attention during the interaction. High self-focused attention was associated with superior recall for nonanxious subjects but associated with more frequent omission errors for anxious subjects. Results support cognitive-behavioral formulations of social anxiety which propose that socially anxious individuals engage in self-focused thinking which may impair their ability to process social information.

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