Validity of the Distinction Between Generalized Social Phobia and Avoidant Personality Disorder

James D. Herbert, Debra A. Hope, Alan S. Bellack

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

205 Scopus citations


Disorders of pervasive social anxiety and inhibition are divided into 2 categories, generalized social phobia (GSP) and avoidant personality disorder (APD). We explored the discriminative validity of this categorization by examining the comorbidity of GSP and APD and by comparing these groups on anxiety level, social skills, dysfunctional cognitions, impairment in functioning, and presence of concurrent disorders. Results from 23 subjects showed high comorbidity of the 2 diagnoses: All subjects who met criteria for APD also met criteria for GSP. APD was associated with greater social anxiety, impairment in functioning, and comorbidity with other psychopathology, but no differences in social skills or performance on an impromptu speech. GSP and APD seem to represent quantitatively different variants of the same spectrum of psychopathology rather than qualitatively distinct disorders. We also investigated a proposed social phobia subtyping scheme.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)332-339
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Abnormal Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1992

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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