Responses of the Socially Anxious to the Prospect of Interpersonal Evaluation


  • This investigation was supported in part by a Research Scientist Development Award (K02-MH00709) from NIMH and also by NIMH Grant R01-MH93108 We thank Kelly Baxter, Carol Chandler, Patricia Chupkovitch, Nancy Fadeley, Chantal Follett, Joan Hairfield, Corinna Hubert, Sharon McAlpine, Lisa Miller, Juhe Mines, Scott Pollack, Ann Marie Ross, Karen Swanner, Jennifer Surles, Sharan Warren, and Debby Winokur for their help with this research Carol Steele LeMay is now at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville

Address correspondence to Bella DePaulo, Department of Psychology, Gilmer Hall, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 22903


ABSTRACT We predicted that socially anxious people who are faced with the prospect of an interpersonal evaluation will act in an inhibited and withdrawn way Subjects who scored low or high on a measure of social anxiety told four stories about themselves to an interviewer In the anticipated-evaluation condition, the subjects learned that after they had told their stories, the interviewer would tell them her impressions of them In the control condition, no mention was made of an evaluation Judges rated transcripts of the stories As predicted, socially anxious subjects who thought they were going to be evaluated (relative to anxious subjects in the control condition and nonanxious subjects in both conditions) told shorter stories, and the events in their stories were commonplace rather than unique Their stories were also less revealing about them as individuals, and less vivid Contrary to a second prediction, socially anxious subjects who expected to be evaluated did not act any less inhibited or withdrawn when their interviewers were described as very trusting than when they were described as very wary Implications are discussed