Date of Award

7-15-2011

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Clinical Psychology (MSCP)

Committee Chair

Michael Christopher, PhD

Abstract

Although meta-analyses of cognitive behavioral treatments for social anxiety suggest large effect sizes for these interventions, there are still a number of individuals that suffer from residual symptoms or are treatment non-responders. These results indicate that there is much more to learn in terms of enhancing treatment outcomes. Socially anxious individuals tend to selectively attend to internal states rather than external cues suggesting that an intervention focused on the acceptance of internal states (i.e., physiological arousal, anxious cognitions and emotions) may be effective in alleviating symptoms. Preliminary research incorporating acceptance based strategies for the treatment of social anxiety have demonstrated promising results. By examining the moderating role of acceptance and suppression on the relationship between fear of negative evaluation and social anxiety symptoms, we hope to gain further support for using acceptance-based strategies to improve treatment outcomes. The purpose of this thesis was to examine components of an acceptance-based model for social anxiety and to investigate the impact of thought suppression and acceptance on social anxiety symptomology. College students (n = 185) were administered the Brief Fear of Negative Evaluation (BFNE), Social Phobia Inventory (SPIN), Acceptance and Action Questionnaire-II (AAQ-II), and the White Bear Suppression Inventory (WBSI). It was hypothesized that acceptance would moderate the relationship between fear of negative evaluation and social phobia symptoms, such that fear of negative evaluation would be more positively related to social phobia symptoms when acceptance is low than when acceptance is high, whereas suppression would moderate the relationship between fear of negative evaluation and social phobia symptoms, such that fear of negative evaluation would be more positively related to social phobia symptoms when suppression is high than when suppression is low. Fear of negative evaluation, acceptance, and suppression were significant predictors of social phobia symptoms but the overall moderation models were not supported. Implications of the clinical impact in terms of case conceptualization and treatment for social anxiety disorder are discussed.

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