Interpretation bias for ambiguous social behavior among individuals with high and low levels of social anxiety

Yoshihiro Kanai, Satoko Sasagawa, Junwen Chen, Hironori Shimada, Yuji Sakano

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    20 Citations (Scopus)


    This study investigated whether high socially anxious individuals interpret other people's ambiguous behavior in a more negative or threatening manner in comparison to low socially anxious individuals, after controlling for the effects of depression. High and low socially anxious participants (N = 31) gave a speech. During the speech, a confederate performed ambiguous behaviors. After the speech, participants were asked to answer questions about their interpretation of the confederate's behaviors using open-ended questions and rating scales. The results showed that the high socially anxious participants interpreted the confederate's ambiguous behavior in a more negative and threatening manner as measured by the rating scales, and in a less neutral manner as measured by the open-ended responses in comparison to the low socially anxious participants. After controlling for the effects of depression, the effects of social anxiety on the threat rating score remained significant. These results suggest that social anxiety is partially related to threatening interpretations of other's ambiguous behaviors.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)229-240
    Number of pages12
    JournalCognitive Therapy and Research
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2010 Jun



    • Cognitive bias
    • Depression
    • Interpretation bias
    • Social anxiety
    • Social phobia

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
    • Clinical Psychology

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