Stopa, Luisa, Brown, Mike A., Luke, Michelle A. and Hirsch, Collette R.
Constructing a self: the role of self-structure and self-certainty in social anxiety
Behaviour Research and Therapy, 48, (10), . (doi:10.1016/j.brat.2010.05.028).
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Current cognitive models stress the importance of negative self-perceptions in maintaining social anxiety, but focus predominantly on content rather than structure. Two studies examine the role of self-structure (self-organisation, self-complexity, and self-concept clarity) in social anxiety. In study one, self-organisation and self-concept clarity were correlated with social anxiety, and a step-wise multiple regression showed that after controlling for depression and self-esteem, which explained 35% of the variance in social anxiety scores, self-concept clarity uniquely predicted social anxiety and accounted for an additional 7% of the variance in social anxiety scores in an undergraduate sample (N = 95) and the interaction between self-concept clarity and compartmentalisation (an aspect of evaluative self-organisation) at step 3 of the multiple regression accounted for a further 3% of the variance in social anxiety scores. In study two, high (n = 26) socially anxious participants demonstrated less self-concept clarity than low socially anxious participants (n = 26) on both self-report (used in study one) and on computerised measures of self-consistency and confidence in self-related judgments. The high socially anxious group had more compartmentalised self-organisation than the low anxious group, but there were no differences between the two groups on any of the other measures of self-organisation. Self-complexity did not contribute to social anxiety in either study, although this may have been due to the absence of a stressor. Overall, the results suggest that self-structure has a potentially important role in understanding social anxiety and that self-concept clarity and other aspects of self-structure such as compartmentalisation interact with each other and could be potential maintaining factors in social anxiety. Cognitive therapy for social phobia might influence self-structure, and understanding the role of structural variables in maintenance and treatment could eventually help to improve treatment outcome.
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