ISSN 2043-8087
Journal of Experimental Psychopathology
 Volume 7, Issue 4, 619-631, 2016
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Reactions to Prospective Positive vs. Negative Evaluation in the Laboratory: A Comparison of High and Low Socially Anxious Participants

  Kevin Barber - Department of Psychology and Centre for Mental Health Research, University of Waterloo
  David Moscovitch - Department of Psychology and Centre for Mental Health Research, University of Waterloo

Volume 7, Issue 4, 2016, Pages 619-631

We present a series of three studies designed to investigate fear of positive evaluation in social anxiety. In study 1, the Positive Evaluation Beliefs Scale (PEBS) was developed and administered it to a large undergraduate sample (N= 267) to assess two competing explanations for fear of positive evaluation: fear of social reprisal, and fear of inadequacy. In study 2, a second sample of undergraduate participants (N = 97) was recruited to confirm that the beliefs measured by the PEBS were distinct from fear of negative evaluation, and had unique utility in predicting social anxiety symptoms. In study 3, 68 undergraduates high (n = 36) or low (n = 32) in social anxiety took part in a laboratory-based “getting acquainted” task where they provided ratings of affect, anxiety, and fears of positive and negative evaluation in anticipation of receiving public feedback on a filmed introduction of themselves that they had made for an unknown social partner whom they expected they would later meet. Results from studies 1 and 2 revealed that both types of beliefs assessed by the PEBS are associated with fear of positive evaluation, suggesting that fear of positive evaluation is a multifaceted construct comprised of at least two sets of overlapping beliefs. Study 3 demonstrated, in contrast to extant theories of fear of positive evaluation in social anxiety, that all participants, including those with high levels of social anxiety, rated the prospect of positive evaluation as anxiety reducing. This finding raises important questions about the construct of fear of positive evaluation and how to measure it “in vivo” in an ecologically valid manner. Research and treatment implications are discussed.

Table of Contents
Fear of Positive Evaluation
Present Study
 Data Integrity and Preliminary Analyses
Equivalence of Groups
Estimated Likelihood of Positive Evaluation
Estimated Likelihood of Negative Evaluation
Fear of Prospective Positive Evaluation
Fear of Prospective Negative Evaluation

Correspondence to
Kevin C. Barber, Department of Psychology and Centre for Mental Health Research, University of Waterloo, 200 University Ave. West, Waterloo, ON, Canada N2L 3G1

social anxiety, fear of positive evaluation (FPE), fear of negative evaluation (FNE), social threat, social feedback, speech performance

Received 30 Jan 2016; Revised 26 Jul 2016; Accepted 26 Jul 2016; In Press 25 Sep 2016

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