ISSN 2043-8087
Journal of Experimental Psychopathology
 Volume 7, Issue 4, 577-587, 2016
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The pernicious effects of post-event processing in social anxiety disorder

Authors
  Karen Rowa - St. Joseph's Healthcare and McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada
  Dubraka Gavric - St. Joseph's Healthcare and McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada
  Victoria Stead - St. Joseph's Healthcare, Hamilton, ON, Canada
  Joelle LeMoult - Stanford University, Hamilton, ON, Canada
  Randi McCabe - St. Joseph's Healthcare and McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada

Volume 7, Issue 4, 2016, Pages 577-587
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5127/jep.056916

Abstract

Aims: Post-event processing (PEP) in social anxiety disorder (SAD) involves ruminating about social encounters after the fact.  There is a clear relationship between PEP and SAD, but less is known about the negative effects of PEP.  The goal of the current study was to investigate these negative effects in a sample of people with SAD.  We hypothesized that PEP would contribute to decreased willingness to try a similar task again and to increased anxiety about engaging in a similar task.  We also hypothesized that the degree of PEP would mediate the relationship between initial self-evaluation of performance and follow-up self-evaluation. 

Methods:  Forty-one individuals with a principal diagnosis of SAD completed the study.  Participants completed baseline measures of symptom severity and state affect and then completed an impromptu speech task.  After completing the speech, they completed a self-evaluation of their performance.  Five days later, they rated the degree to which they engaged in PEP about their speech performance, indicated their willingness and anxiety about completing a similar speech task in the future, and completed a second self-evaluation of their performance. 

Results: PEP contributed unique and significant variance to willingness (R2 change = .12, p < .05) but not to anxiety ratings (R2 change = .027, p = .13) once symptom severity, depressive symptoms, and state anxiety were controlled for.  Using bias-corrected bootstrapping, PEP mediated the relationship between initial and follow-up performance ratings. 

Conclusions:  The more people engage in PEP, the less willing they appear to be to re-enter difficult social situations, likely perpetuating a cycle of avoidance.  PEP also appears to be one factor that keeps negative self-perceptions “alive” after a challenging social situation.  The current study provides unique evidence of the negative consequences of PEP for individuals with SAD.  


Table of Contents
Introduction
Method
 Participants
 Procedure
 Measures
Results
Discussion
References

Correspondence to
Karen Rowa, Ph.D., Anxiety Treatment and Research Clinic, St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton, 100 West 5th Street, Hamilton, ON, Canada L8N 3K7.

Keywords
social anxiety, post-event processing, self-evaluation

Dates
Received 1 Mar 2016; Revised 4 Jun 2016; Accepted 4 Jun 2016; In Press 26 Jun 2016







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