Socially anxious individuals hold negative beliefs about their appearance, abilities and personality. These negative self-conceptions increase expectations of negative evaluation from others and, consequently increase anxiety. Self-verification theory states that individuals seek, accept and prefer feedback that is congruent with their self-conceptions. This study explored the assumptions of self-verification theory in social anxiety. This was achieved by examining the type of feedback socially anxious individuals seek and how positive and negative feedback is processed. Results from an undergraduate sample (n = 84) indicate that socially anxious individuals were no more or less likely to seek negative feedback than individuals with low social anxiety. However, participants with greater social anxiety rated positive feedback as less accurate, rated negative feedback as more accurate, and were more comfortable with negative feedback, compared to participants with low social anxiety. Greater social anxiety was also found to predict increased discomfort with positive feedback, and fear of negative evaluation fully mediated this relationship. These findings suggest that self-verification processes operate in social anxiety and highlight the need for researchers to include measures of fears of evaluation when examining self-verification theory in samples of socially anxious individuals.
- social anxiety
- social phobia