Invited Symposium: Development of Social Phobia


Self-Presentation and Social Anxiety

Sociometer Theory

Implications for Treatment




INABIS '98 Home Page Your Session Symposia & Poster Sessions Plenary Sessions Exhibitors' Foyer Personal Itinerary New Search

Social Anxiety as an Early Warning System

Leary, M. R. (Department of Psychology, Wake Forest University, USA)
Kowalski, R. M. (Department of Psychology, Western Carolina University, USA)

Contact Person: Mark R Leary (leary@wfu.edu)


The self-presentation theory of social anxiety (Schlenker & Leary, 1982) proposes that people experience social anxiety when they are motivated to make a desired impression on other people but doubt that they will successfully do so. The purpose of the present paper is to extend the self-presentational approach by addressing the question of why the possibility of self- presentational failure leads people to feel anxious. We propose that the capacity for social anxiety evolved as an adaptation to help people avoid relational devaluation--a decrement in the degree to which others value their relationships with the individual. Because survival and reproduction in the ancestral environment required people to be members of supportive social groups, affective- motivational systems developed to 'warn' people when their social acceptance was in jeopardy and motivate preemptive or remedial behaviors. To the extent that other people's willingness to enter into supportive, cooperative relationships with the individual is based on their impressions of him or her (as socially desirable, competent, attractive, moral, or whatever), the threat of making an undesired impression elicits (social) anxiety. This paper explores the implications of this approach to social anxiety and examines relevant empirical evidence regarding the antecedents of social anxiety, its behavioral concomitants, and individual differences in trait social anxiety.

Back to the top.
Presentation Number SAleary0485
Keywords: social anxiety, social phobia, self-presentation, anxiety, shyness

| Discussion Board | Next Page | Your Symposium |
Leary, M. R.; Kowalski, R. M.; (1998). Social Anxiety as an Early Warning System. Presented at INABIS '98 - 5th Internet World Congress on Biomedical Sciences at McMaster University, Canada, Dec 7-16th. Invited Symposium. Available at URL http://www.mcmaster.ca/inabis98/ameringen/leary0485/index.html
© 1998 Author(s) Hold Copyright