Background: Socially anxious individuals are theorized to avoid social cues and engage in safety behaviors to prevent negative evaluation, which prevents disconfirmation of social fears. Cognitive models propose that this avoidance is driven by (1) self-focused attention (SFA) and (2) physiological arousal. Design: To examine these proposed mechanisms, we compared high socially anxious (HSA; n =29) and low socially anxious (LSA; n = 28) participants on a view-time task involving faces. Method: Participants engaged in a task in which they viewed socially threatening (i.e., disgust, anger) and nonthreatening (i.e., happy, neutral) faces. Results: Results revealed that HSA participants endorsed greater SFA during the view-time task and spent less time viewing angry, disgusted, and neutral facial expressions relative to LSA participants. Regression analyses revealed that arousal, as indexed by salivary ?-amylase, was a unique predictor of increased face-viewing time among HSA participants. In contrast, arousal predicted decreased face-viewing time among LSA participants. Conclusions: Findings underscore the need for further investigation of avoidance mechanisms in social anxiety.
Numerous studies have shown that social phobia patients experience negative self-impressions or images during social situations. Clark and Wells (1995) posited that such negative self-images are involved in the maintenance of social phobia. Thus, the present study investigated the effects of negative self-imagery on cognition and emotion during and following a brief social situation. Specifically, high and low socially anxious participants (N = 77) were instructed to hold either a negative or control self-image as they engaged in a brief speech. Participants then rated their anxiety, performance, cognitions, and focus of attention. Twenty-four hours later, they returned to the laboratory and completed questionnaires assessing the amount of post-event processing (PEP) they engaged in. The results showed that, irrespective of the level of social anxiety or depressive symptoms, participants that held the negative self-image experienced higher levels of anxiety, were more self-focused, experienced more negative thoughts, rated their anxiety as more visible, appraised their performance more negatively, and engaged in more negative and less positive PEP than participants that held the control self-image. Collectively the results indicate that negative imagery is causally involved in the maintenance of social phobia, as well as in the generation of social anxiety among non-anxious individuals.
The current review systematically documents the role of gamma-amino-butyric acid (GABA) in different aspects of fear memory-acquisition and consolidation, reconsolidation, and extinction, and attempts to resolve apparent contradictions in the data in order to identify the function of GABA(A) receptors in fear memory. First, numerous studies have shown that pre- and post-training administration of drugs that facilitate GABAergic transmission disrupt the initial formation of fear memories, indicating a role for GABA(A) receptors, possibly within the amygdala and hippocampus, in the acquisition and consolidation of fear memories. Similarly, recent evidence indicates that these drugs are also detrimental to the restorage of fear memories after their reactivation. This suggests a role for GABA(A) receptors in the reconsolidation of fear memories, although the precise neural circuits are yet to be identified. Finally, research regarding the role of GABA in extinction has shown that GABAergic transmission is also disruptive to the formation of newly acquired extinction memories. We argue that contradictions to these patterns are the result of variations in (a) the location of drug infusion, (b) the dosage of the drug and/or (c) the time point of drug administration. The question of whether these GABA-induced memory deficits reflect deficits in retrieval is discussed. Overall, the evidence implies that the processes mediating memory stability consequent to initial fear learning, memory reactivation, and extinction training are dependent on a common mechanism of reduced GABAergic neurotransmission.
Current social phobia models (e.g., Clark & Wells, 1995; Leary & Kowalski, 1995) postulate that socially anxious individuals negatively appraise their anxiety sensations (e.g., sweating, heart racing, blushing) as evidence of poor social performance, and thus fear these anxiety symptoms will be noticed and judged negatively by others. Consequently, they become self-focused and hypervigilant of these sensations and use them to judge how they appear to others. To test this model, high (N=41) and low (N=38) socially anxious participants were shown false physiological feedback regarding an increase or decrease in heart rate prior to and during an impromptu speech task. Relative to participants who observed a false heart rate decrease, those in the increase condition reported higher levels of negative affect, more negative performance appraisals, and more frequent negative ruminative thoughts, and these effects were mediated by an increase in self-focused attention. The unhelpful effects of the physiological feedback were not specific to high socially anxious participants. The results have implications for current cognitive models as well as the treatment of social phobia.
Related JoVE Video
Journal of Visualized Experiments
What is Visualize?
JoVE Visualize is a tool created to match the last 5 years of PubMed publications to methods in JoVE's video library.
How does it work?
We use abstracts found on PubMed and match them to JoVE videos to create a list of 10 to 30 related methods videos.
Video X seems to be unrelated to Abstract Y...
In developing our video relationships, we compare around 5 million PubMed articles to our library of over 4,500 methods videos. In some cases the language used in the PubMed abstracts makes matching that content to a JoVE video difficult. In other cases, there happens not to be any content in our video library that is relevant to the topic of a given abstract. In these cases, our algorithms are trying their best to display videos with relevant content, which can sometimes result in matched videos with only a slight relation.