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Observer perspective imagery in social anxiety: effects on quality of interaction and desire for future interactions

Askew, C, Kearney, L and Morgan, J (2011) Observer perspective imagery in social anxiety: effects on quality of interaction and desire for future interactions In: European Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Therapies (EABCT) 41st Annual Congress 2011, 2011-08-31 - 2011-09-03, Reykjavik, Iceland.

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Objectives: Socially anxious people often imagine or recall social events from an observer perspective. They imagine their own appearance, often focusing on visible anxiety symptoms. These images have been shown to have wide-ranging negative effects such as increased anxiety and poor social performance. An alternative is the field perspective, in which the event is pictured from the person's own point of view. This is generally believed to be a more adaptive imagery style. Observer perspective images have been implicated in the onset of social anxiety. One possible mechanism by which this may occur is investigated in this study. It may be that observer perspective images have some of their effect by diminishing a person's enjoyment of social events and discouraging them from seeking out social interaction in future. Method: An independent measures study was conducted with two independent variables: anxiety (high vs low) and imagery type (field vs observer). Participants engaged in a conversation with the first author while focusing on an observer or field perspective image. They then completed measures of the quality, intimacy and level of disclosure during the interaction, and their desire for future interaction (DFI). Results: As expected, high anxious people reported lower quality of interaction and DFI. These effects were qualified by significant interactions between anxiety and imagery. The low anxious participants who used a field perspective image reported higher quality of interaction and DFI than all other groups. Further, an observer perspective image was found to decrease intimacy and disclosure among low socially anxious individuals (all ps<.05). Conclusions: The key findings of this study suggest that observer perspective images have negative effects on interaction quality for low socially anxious people. Their scores were often indistinguishable from those of the high anxious participants. Levels of social anxiety seemed to be more relevant than imagery type, in that differences between the perspectives were not significant among high anxious participants. Past research which emphasises the importance of observer perspective images in social anxiety is supported. Findings suggest that an observer perspective can cause non socially anxious individuals to view social interactions in a more negative light, and be less likely to engage in similar interactions again. Future research is planned which will investigate the reasons for this in more detail.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Conference Paper)
Subjects : Psychology
Divisions : Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences > School of Psychology
Authors :
Askew, C
Kearney, L
Morgan, J
Date : 31 August 2011
Contributors :
European Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Therapies,
Related URLs :
Depositing User : Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited : 17 Nov 2016 14:21
Last Modified : 31 Oct 2017 18:56

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