Interpretative biases in social phobia: Content specificity and the effects of depression

Judith K. Wilson*, Ronald M. Rapee

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    24 Citations (Scopus)


    Maladaptive interpretations of negative social events are considered to be an important cognitive feature of social phobia. The present study sought to investigate the content-specificity of interpretative biases in social phobia, and to examine the influence of concurrent depressive symptoms on the interpretation of different types of events. Individuals with social phobia were compared with non-clinical controls in terms of the degree to which they believed different interpretations of hypothetical social or non-social situations with either positive or negative outcomes. The effect of including scores on a measure of depression as a covariate in analyses was also examined. The results showed that individuals with social phobia were more likely than controls to believe negative interpretations of negative social events, regardless of their level of concurrent depression. Negative interpretative biases were also evident for other types of events when depression was not included as a covariate, although the majority of these biases were no longer evident when depression was controlled. Results are discussed in terms of their implications regarding cognitive differences between social anxiety and depression.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)315-331
    Number of pages17
    JournalCognitive Therapy and Research
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2005


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