Probability and emotional impact estimates of intense positive and negative social events were examined in individuals with generalized social phobia (GSPs), obsessive compulsive disorder (OCDs), and nonanxious controls (NACs). Participants completed a questionnaire containing 20 event descriptions. For each event, they indicated the probability that the event would happen to them and rated aspects of their reactions to the event: magnitude, duration, self-esteem change, and strength of bodily reaction. Compared to NACs, GSPs estimated positive events as less likely and negative events as more likely to happen to them. GSPs rated the impact of both negative and positive social events higher than did NACs. Moreover, GSPs anticipated experiencing more frequent and intense negative reactions to positive social events than did NACs. On most measures, GSPs also differed from OCDs. Although evaluation biases of social events may be more characteristic of anxious individuals than of nonanxious individuals, they appear to be particularly related to social phobia.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We thank Karen Bogert and Karla Ferrarrelli for help with data collection and entry. An earlier version of this paper was presented at the Annual Meeting of the Association for the Advancement of Behavior Therapy, Miami, Florida, November 1997. The present research was supported in part by a grant from National Institute for Mental Health (MH-49340) awarded to Edna B. Foa.
- Cognitive biases
- Cost estimation
- Generalized social phobia
- Probability estimation