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

Posted on December 9, 2014

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.

The research is based on a survey of 77 men and women with a diagnosis of social anxiety disorder and 63 healthy controls without a diagnosis. Each of these primary participants named a friend, and these friends were also surveyed. Most of the friendships were same sex.

Past research has found that people with social anxiety tend to say that their friendships are of lower quality in general, as compared with control participants. This observation was replicated here: the participants with a social anxiety diagnosis tended to rate the quality of their friendships in general more negatively, and the specific named friendship too, as compared with control participants. The participants with social anxiety especially rated their named friendship more negatively if they were younger and if the friendship was newer.

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Category(s):Anxiety, Social Isolation

Source material from British Psychological Society