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Behav Res Ther. 2002 May;40(5):501-8.

Implicit self-esteem and social anxiety: differential self-favouring effects in high and low anxious individuals.

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Department of Medical, Clinical & Experimental Psychology, Maastricht University, The Netherlands.


This study was designed to investigate the role of negative self-image in social phobia. Participants were 19 high and 19 low socially anxious women. Because self-report measures of self-esteem are sensitive to self-presentation and impression management strategies, an implicit association test (IAT) was used to assess participants' self-esteem as well as their general evaluation of others ('other-esteem'). Socially anxious women displayed relatively low levels of self-esteem on self-report measures. However, at the implicit level, low and high anxious women were characterised by a similar, highly positive self-image. Both groups displayed a relatively low 'other-esteem'. Yet, this self-favouring effect was considerably weaker in high than in low anxious participants. The results provide no unequivocal support for the idea that low self-esteem plays an important role in social anxiety. Yet, rather than by low self-esteem per se, socially anxious people are characterised by a small discrepancy between esteem of self and others, and it may be this reduced tendency to self-favouring that is pivotal to social anxiety.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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