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It has been suggested that social phobia may be characterized by two interpretation biases. First, a tendency to interpret ambiguous social events in a negative fashion. Second, a tendency to interpret unambiguous but mildly negative social events in a catastrophic fashion. To assess this possibility, patients with generalized social phobia, equally anxious patients with another anxiety disorder, and non-patient controls were presented with ambiguous scenarios depicting social and non-social events, and with unambiguous scenarios depicting mildly negative social events. Interpretations were assessed by participants' answers to open-ended questions and by their rankings and belief ratings for experimenter-provided, alternative explanations. Compared to both control groups, patients with generalized social phobia were more likely to interpret ambiguous social events in a negative fashion and to catastrophize in response to unambiguous, mildly negative social events.


Journal article


Behav Res Ther

Publication Date





273 - 283


Adult, Anxiety, Attitude, Female, Humans, Life Change Events, Male, Phobic Disorders, Surveys and Questionnaires