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Not intended, still embarrassed: Social anxiety is related to increased levels of embarrassment in response to unintentional social norm violations

  • Janna Marie Bas-Hoogendam (a1) (a2) (a3), Henk van Steenbergen (a1) (a3), Nic J.A. van der Wee (a2) (a3) and P. Michiel Westenberg (a1) (a3)

Abstract

Background:

Social anxiety disorder (SAD) is associated with altered social norm (SN) processing: SAD-patients rate stories on SN violations as more inappropriate and more embarrassing than healthy participants, with the most prominent effect for stories on unintentional SN violations (i.e. committing a blunder). Until now it’s unknown how levels of social anxiety (SA) are related to ratings of SN violations in the general population, in which SA-symptoms are present at a continuum. More insight in this relationship could improve our understanding of the symptom profile of SAD. Therefore, we investigated the relation between ratings of SN violations and SA-levels in the general population.

Methods:

Adults and adolescents (n = 87) performed the revised Social Norm Processing Task (SNPT-R) and completed self-report questionnaires on social anxiety. Repeated-measures ANCOVAs were used to investigate the effect of SA on the ratings of inappropriateness and embarrassment.

Results:

As hypothesized, participants with higher SA-levels rated SN violations as more inappropriate and more embarrassing. Whereas participants with low-to-intermediate SA-levels rated unintentional SN violations as less embarrassing than intentional SN violations, participants with high SA-levels (z-score SA ≥ 1.6) rated unintentional SN violations as equally embarrassing as intentional SN violations.

Conclusion:

These findings indicate that increased embarrassment for unintentional SN violations is an important characteristic of social anxiety. These high levels of embarrassment are likely related to the debilitating concern of socially-anxious people that their skills and behavior do not meet expectations of others, and to their fear of blundering. This concern might be an important target for future therapeutic interventions.

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Copyright

Corresponding author

*Corresponding author at: Developmental and Educational Psychology, Institute of Psychology, Leiden University, Wassenaarseweg 52, Pieter de la Court Building, room 3.B43, 2333 AK, Leiden, The Netherlands. E-mail address: j.m.hoogendam@fsw.leidenuniv.nl (J.M. Bas-Hoogendam).
1.https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Janna_Marie_Bas_Hoogendam.

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Not intended, still embarrassed: Social anxiety is related to increased levels of embarrassment in response to unintentional social norm violations

  • Janna Marie Bas-Hoogendam (a1) (a2) (a3), Henk van Steenbergen (a1) (a3), Nic J.A. van der Wee (a2) (a3) and P. Michiel Westenberg (a1) (a3)

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Not intended, still embarrassed: Social anxiety is related to increased levels of embarrassment in response to unintentional social norm violations

  • Janna Marie Bas-Hoogendam (a1) (a2) (a3), Henk van Steenbergen (a1) (a3), Nic J.A. van der Wee (a2) (a3) and P. Michiel Westenberg (a1) (a3)
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