ISSN 2043-8087
Journal of Experimental Psychopathology
 Volume 3, Issue 2, 223-242, 2012
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The Effects of Repeated Imagery Practice on Self-Concept, Anxiety and Performance in Socially Anxious Participants

Lusia Stop (a), Mike A. Brown (a), & Colette R. Hirsch (b)
(a) School of Psychology, University of Southampton
(b) King's College London, Institute of Psychiatry, UK and University of Western Australia

Volume 3, Issue 2, 2012, Pages 223-242

Current cognitive models of social phobia, all stress the importance of negative self-perceptions in maintaining social anxiety (Moscovitch, 2009, Hofmann, 2007; Rapee & Heimberg, 1997; Clark & Wells, 1995). In some models, (Clark & Wells, 1995) negative self-perceptions are embodied in the form of a visual image. In this study, 58 socially anxious participants were assigned to either a positive (n =19) or a negative (n =19) self-imagery condition and we tested the impact of repeated imagery practice on self-concept (self-esteem and self-concept clarity), and on anxiety and performance in a conversation with a stooge. Participants in each condition practiced holding either a positive or a negative self-image in mind over eight days while at the same time imagining themselves in a series of increasingly challenging social situations. After the final imagery practice, participants took part in a conversation with a stooge. We hypothesised that repeated practice with a positive image would produce higher levels of self-esteem, more self-concept clarity, and would lead to less anxiety and better ratings of performance than holding a negative image. The hypotheses were partially supported. Positive self- imagery practice led to higher self-esteem ratings and higher self-concept clarity on a computerised measure of self-concept clarity, but not on a self-report measure. Positive self-imagery practice also produced better performance ratings in the social test (in both subjective and objective assessments of performance) and a trend towards reduced anxiety. The results are discussed in relation to Conway and Pleydell-Pearce's (2000) self-memory model and the clinical implications are considered.

Table of Contents
 Descriptive Measures
  Social Interaction and Anxiety Scale (SIAS; Mattick & Clarke, 1998).
  State-Trait Anxiety Inventory-Trait version (STAI-Trait; Spielberger, Gorsuch, Lushene, Vagg, & Jacobs, 1983).
  Beck Depression Inventory, 2nd Edition (BDI-II; Beck, Steer, & Brown, 1996).
  Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (RSES; Rosenberg, 1989).
  Self-Concept Clarity Scale (SCCS; Campbell et al., 1996).
 Outcome measures
 State self-esteem
 State self-concept clarity
  Self-report measures of state self-concept clarity.
  Me Not-Me Self-Description Task (Markus, 1977).
 Anxiety and performance in the conversation with the stooge
 Imagery instructions and social situation vignettes
 Manipulation checks
  Imagery manipulation checks following daily imagery training sessions.
  Imagery manipulation checks following the conversation with the stooge.
  Initial session.
  At home.
  State self-esteem.
 Me/Not-Me Self-Description Task
  Internal consistency scores.
  Confidence ratings in positive and negative words.
 Anxiety and performance ratings of the conversation with the Stooge
  State anxiety.
  Anxiety and performance.
  Comparison of participant and stooge ratings of performance on the SPQ.
  Imagery ratings during the conversation.

Correspondence to
Lusia Stopa, School of Psychology, University of Southampton, Building 44 (Shackleton) Highfield Campus, Southampton, SO17 1BJ, United Kingdom.

social anxiety, imagery, self-concept, cognitive therapy

Received 21 Mar 2011; Revised 14 Jul 2011; Accepted 20 Sep 2011; In Press 23 Apr 2012

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