Cooper, Ruth (2012). Relationship between social anxiety and perceived trustworthiness. PhD thesis, Universität zu Köln.


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Background and Objectives: Given that the correct interpretation of emotional facial expressions is an essential social skill, it has been repeatedly tested if socially anxious persons show an interpretational bias for emotional faces. Studies examining interpretational biases have revealed inconsistent findings, resulting in four possible bias patterns. However, the assessment may have been hampered by employing more general ratings that arguably are less able to reflect processing of social information. We examined the relationship between social anxiety and face ratings for perceived trustworthiness given that trustworthiness is an inherently socially relevant construct. Improving on earlier analytical strategies, we directly evaluated the four bias patterns using a Bayesian approach to test informative hypotheses. Method: Ninety-eight undergraduates rated 198 face stimuli on perceived trustworthiness and intelligence, the latter serving as a control condition. Subsequently, participants completed a set of questionnaires. Results: It was three times more likely that social anxiety does not influence trustworthiness judgments than assuming any kind of negative interpretation bias in social anxiety. Also, this independence model reached the best fit for perceived intelligence, indicating that social anxiety does not have a prominent influence on intelligence ratings. Limitations: Since we did not assess the participant’s diagnostic status, we cannot generalize our findings to clinical levels of social anxiety. Conclusions: We conclude that the deviant interpretation of facial characteristics is not a relevant aspect in social anxiety.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD thesis)
CreatorsEmailORCIDORCID Put Code
Cooper, Ruthruth.cooper@uni-koeln.deUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
URN: urn:nbn:de:hbz:38-51139
Date: August 2012
Language: English
Faculty: Faculty of Human Sciences
Divisions: Faculty of Human Sciences > Department Psychologie
Subjects: Psychology
Uncontrolled Keywords:
social anxiety, face evaluation, interpretation, trustworthinessEnglish
Date of oral exam: 10 April 2013
NameAcademic Title
Gerlach, Alexander L.Prof. Dr.
Stahl, JuttaProf. Dr.
Refereed: Yes


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