Negative and distorted images of the observable self are important in the development and maintenance of social phobia. Previous research has shown that video feedback has potential to correct the distorted self-perception [Rapee, R. M. and Hayman, K. (1996). The effects of video feedback on the self-evaluation of performance in socially anxious subjects. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 34, 315-322]. The present experiment investigated whether the construction of a self-image prior to viewing the video may enhance the therapeutic effects of video feedback. High and low socially anxious individuals gave a speech and then viewed the video of their performance. Half of the sample were given cognitive preparation prior to viewing the video. Cognitive preparation involved asking participants to (1) predict in detail what they will see in the video, (2) form an image of themselves giving the speech and (3) watch the video as though they were watching a stranger. Participants who received cognitive preparation prior to the video feedback made higher ratings of their overall performance and of specific aspects of their performance compared to those who were not given cognitive preparation and compared to the same ratings made prior to the video feedback. These results suggest that the therapeutic effects of video feedback can be enhanced by careful cognitive preparation which maximises the perceived discrepancy between self and video images. Copyright (C) 2000 Elsevier Science Ltd.