Reasuring read: Suffer from extreme social anxiety? Your friends probably like you more than you realise

Oh how I love BPS Digest for posts such as this:

A psychologist helping a person with social anxiety disorder will often try to convince them that they come over far more positively in social situations than they realise. A new study provides some evidence to back this up. Thomas Rodebaugh and his colleagues asked people with social anxiety disorder to rate a friendship in terms of intimacy, liking, support and satisfaction, then they asked that friend to also rate the relationship on the same terms. The reassuring finding is that friends’ ratings tended to be more positive.

Abstract of the study mentioned in the article:

Social anxiety disorder is known to be associated with self-report of global friendship quality. However, information about specific friendships, as well as information beyond self-report, is lacking. Such information is crucial, because known biases in information processing related to social anxiety disorder render global self-ratings particularly difficult to interpret. We examined these issues focusing on diagnosed participants (n = 77) compared with community control participants (n = 63). We examined self-report regarding global (i.e., overall) friendship quality and a specific friendship’s quality; in addition, we examined friend-report of that friendship’s quality. Results suggested that social anxiety disorder has a negative impact on self-perception of friendship quality for a specific friendship, but that this effect is less evident as reported by the friends. Specifically, social anxiety disorder was associated with a tendency to report worse friendship quality in comparison to friend-report, particularly in participants who were younger or had less long-lasting friendships. However, friend-report did show clear differences based on diagnostic group, with friends reporting participants with social anxiety disorder to be less dominant in the friendship and less well-adjusted. Overall, the findings are consistent with results of other studies indicating that social anxiety disorder has a strong association with self-ratings of impairment, but that these ratings appear out of proportion with the report of observers (in this case, friends).

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