Social anxiety is not just about being uncomfortable with positive evaluation, it is also about being afraid of receiving positive evaluations.
ARE PEOPLE WITH SOCIAL ANXIETY AFRAID OF RECEIVING POSITIVE EVALUATIONS?
In social anxiety, fear of evaluation in general is important regardless of the valence (i.e., positive or negative) of the evaluation. What is feared is the experience of conspicuousness (i.e., drawing attention) and/or self-consciousness in which the individual might receive a positive or negative evaluation.
Fear of Positive Evaluation
For example, the current study found that fear of positive evaluation (FPE) is positively related to discomfort following positive feedback and negatively related to accuracy of the feedback.
In other words, the uneasiness experienced during a positive evaluation is also accompanied with fear of positive evaluation, but that fear is reduced when the accuracy of the positive evaluation increases.
Fear of Positive Evaluation and Social Anxiety
More importantly, this study provides evidence that receiving positive feedback is associated with discomfort because of the presence of that fear; a relationship that is further compounded by social anxiety which appears to lead to increased levels of FPE and discomfort following positive feedback.
It is noteworthy to add that FPE is present in socially anxious individuals who view themselves as submissive, which further indicates that social anxiety is related to perceived lower social status.
Lastly, FPE is not associated with depression or perfectionism, which suggests that the relationship between FPE and social anxiety appears to be a specific feature of the disorder rather than that of anxiety in general or depression.
Yasmina Rebani Lee
Weeks, J.W., Heimberg, R.G., Rodebaugh, T.L., & Norton, P.J. (2008). Exploring the relationship between fear of positive evaluation and social anxiety. Journal of anxiety disorders, 22 3, 386-400 .
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