Specificity of cost and probability biases in social anxiety: Comparing status and belongingness threats

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Background: Social anxiety (SA) is characterized by concerns about the expected occurrence (probability) and anticipated distress (cost) of social threats. Unclear is whether SA correlates specifically with biased expectations of belongingness or status threats. Aims: We aimed to discern if SA is uniquely tied to biased expectancies of either belongingness or status threats. Materials and Methods: We assessed 757 participants' perceptions of exclusion and put-down scenarios, analysing associations between SA and threat perceptions. Discussion: Our findings support the status-sensitivity hypothesis, suggesting individuals with high SA are particularly attuned to the perceived cost of status threats, potentially informing treatment approaches. Conclusion: Understanding SA's link to status concerns enhances therapeutic strategies, emphasizing the need to address status-related situations, cognitions, and emotions in interventions.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBritish Journal of Clinical Psychology
Early online date8 May 2024
StateE-pub ahead of print - 8 May 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 The Authors. British Journal of Clinical Psychology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of British Psychological Society.


  • cost bias
  • evolutionary theory
  • probability bias
  • social anxiety
  • social status


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