Attentional Focus and Intrinsic Values in Socially Anxious Individuals

Open Access
Author:
Nguyen, Jennifer
Graduate Program:
Psychology
Degree:
Master of Science
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
July 11, 2008
Committee Members:
  • Thomas D Borkovec, Thesis Advisor
Keywords:
  • social anxiety
  • attentional focus
  • intrinsic values
Abstract:
Self-focus during social interactions increases anxiety, whereas task-focus decreases anxiety in socially anxious individuals. Socially anxious individuals not only show heightened self-focus compared to non-anxious controls, but they also fear negative evaluation from others and are concerned about external outcomes of performance. Recent research indicates that instructions to focus on the external task rather than on oneself decreases the amount of anxiety experienced during a social interaction. The present study aimed to replicate the results for self-focus and task-focus, and to explore the effects of intrinsic values on social anxiety. Contrary to predictions, results indicated that attentional focus instructions did not affect participants’ self-reported anxiety. Furthermore, the self-focus group (and to a limited degree, the task-focus group) reported feeling greater competence and engaging in more positive behaviors than the intrinsic focus group did during the interaction task. Exploration of the unanticipated findings and implications for future research were discussed.