Mindsets in social anxiety: a new look at selective information processing.
Hiemisch A., Ehlers A., Westermann R.
According to the Rubicon Model of Action Phases (in: J. Gollwitzer, 1996), Motivation, volition, and action, Enzyclopedia of psychology, series "motivation and emotion", Vol. 4, Hogrefe, Göttingen, 1996, pp. 531-582), different stages in goal pursuit are accompanied by different mindsets that enhance processing of mindset-congruous information. Before people engage in action, they usually deliberate possible goals for a given situation (deliberative mindset). Once a goal is chosen, they plan how to achieve this particular goal (implemental mindset). The present experiments tested the hypothesis that people with social anxiety show a reversal of mindsets when approaching social situations. In Experiment 1, 20 students were asked to either deliberate goals for a hypothetical social conflict (deliberation), or to think about steps to solve the conflict (implementation). An unexpected recognition test demonstrated different recognition memory for deliberation-related versus implementation-related information in the two groups, consistent with the hypothesis of different mindsets. In Experiment 2, 48 students who were either high or low in social anxiety were randomly assigned to either the deliberation or the implementation condition. Participants high in social anxiety showed a pattern in the recognition test that was consistent with a reversal of mindsets. When asked to plan social situations, they showed an inappropriate deliberative mindset. In contrast, they lacked a deliberative mindset when deliberating goals for the social situation. The result indicate that socially anxious people engage in information processing that interferes with successful goal attainment when approaching social situations.