The relationship among social phobia, objective and perceived physiological reactivity, and anxiety sensitivity in an adolescent population

Emily R. Anderson, Debra A. Hope

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

96 Scopus citations

Abstract

Physiological theories may be important in the development and maintenance of social phobia in youth. A limited literature base indicates that youth with social phobia experience increases in objective physiological arousal during social-evaluative situations and are more aware of such increases compared to nonanxious youth. Recent research suggests that youth with social phobia also evidence heightened levels of anxiety sensitivity, which may lead to interpretation of physiological arousal as dangerous or distressing, and, as a result, in avoidance of situations which produce increased physiological arousal. The purpose of the current study was to examine interaction among objective physiological arousal, perceived physiological arousal, and anxiety sensitivity among adolescents diagnosed with social phobia. A sample of community adolescents participated in two anxiety-provoking tasks during which objective physiological arousal was monitored, and after which perceived physiological arousal and anxiety sensitivity were evaluated. Results from this study evidenced no differences between social phobic and nonanxious adolescents with regard to objective physiological arousal during either anxiety-provoking tasks. Adolescents with social phobia, however, were more aware of measured increases in physiological arousal, as well as more afraid of the potential social implications of that arousal compared to nonanxious adolescents. Implications for theory and treatment are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)18-26
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Anxiety Disorders
Volume23
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2009

Keywords

  • Adolescence
  • Anxiety sensitivity
  • Physiological reactivity
  • Social phobia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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