Is social anxiety associated with impairment in close relationships? A preliminary investigation


We examined the association between social anxiety and interpersonal functioning. Unlike prior research, we focused specifically on close relationships, given the growing evidence of dysfunction in these relationships among people with psychopathology. We proposed that social anxiety would be associated with specific interpersonal styles. One hundred sixty-eight young adults with a range of social anxiety symptoms were interviewed regarding symptom severity, interpersonal styles, and chronic interpersonal stress. Results indicated that higher levels of social anxiety were associated with interpersonal styles reflecting less assertion, more conflict avoidance, more avoidance of expressing emotion, and greater interpersonal dependency. Moreover, lack of assertion and overreliance on others mediated the association between social anxiety and interpersonal stress. Associations held controlling for depressive symptoms. Implications of these findings for interpersonally oriented conceptualizations of social anxiety disorder are discussed.

Publication Title

Behavior Therapy