Date of Award

2019

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Psychology

Department

College of Sciences and Health Professions

First Advisor

Ilya Yaroslavsky

Subject Headings

Clinical Psychology, Psychology

Abstract

At its core, Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) is an intense fear where an individual is afraid of being rejected, humiliated, embarrassed, or negatively judged by others in social situations. Due to these feelings, those affected by SAD avoid interpersonal situations, which maintain and worsen the disorder. SAD affects 15 million adults and impairs daily functioning in countless aspects. Through various research studies, evidence has shown that individuals who suffer from SAD have difficulty managing their emotional states such as fear and anxiety and are less willing to accept and forgive themselves than their healthy peers. Willingness to accept, be kind, and forgive one’s self is known as self-compassion. It is not clear in what way self-compassion effects the anxious and fear emotional states that define SAD. As fear is an immediate response to manifest danger, it is likely that self-compassion is more closely tied to anxiety that is prospective in nature. Therefore, this study examines if effects of self-compassion are more pronounced for anxiety rather than fear in a distressing task. Undergraduate students (N=130) completed the self-compassion measure on a computer and participated in a Free Breathing task (measure baseline) and the Trier Social Stress Test (measure distress) where they prepared (anticipatory state) and delivered (fear state) a speech in front of researchers. Participant’s negative affect (nervous and scared) ratings were obtained following each task. Results concluded that self-compassion had a trend effect in decreasing negative affect equally for both the anticipatory and fear tasks relative to baseline.

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