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Social anxiety: a question of theory of mind?

Schjelderup, V. (2011). Social anxiety: a question of theory of mind?. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City University London)


Twenty-four participants with a diagnosis of social anxiety were compared with fourteen participants with anxiety disorders other than social anxiety and twenty-nine comparison participants. Participants were matched on IQ and read strange stories to assess second-order false belief understanding. On the basis of previous research it was hypothesised that participants with social anxiety would spend significantly longer responding to non-mental and mental state questions compared to the other two groups and would give significantly poorer responses. As hypothesized, the social anxiety group did spend significantly longer responding to the mental state questions than both the other groups and the quality of their responses was poorer. The longer response times and poor quality of response were conceptualised as having a poor Theory of Mind. This link to Theory of Mind suggests a new understanding of the cycle of anxiety in social anxiety, and suggests the future of counselling with these clients may be altered to further improve effectiveness of treatment. There was also an unexpected finding for all groups, which showed that on the whole the faster a participant responded the more accurate they tended to be. The implications for this will also be discussed.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Departments: Doctoral Theses
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
Doctoral Theses > School of Arts and Social Sciences Doctoral Theses
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