Only a few studies have examined relationships between social anxiety and subtypes of empathy. Findings are mixed. The present study examined social anxiety severity on a continuum and how it related to affective and cognitive empathy in 684 nonpsychiatric adults (77% female). Participants completed an online battery of measures that included: a self-report measure of social anxiety severity (Fear of Negative Evaluation), a self-report measure with subscales for affective and cognitive empathy (Interpersonal Reactivity Index), and a behavioral measure of cognitive empathy (Reading the Mind in the Eyes Task; MIE). After statistically covarying for general anxiety severity, biological sex moderated the relationship between social anxiety severity and performance on the MIE task. In women, a higher severity of social anxiety related to better performance on the MIE. This relationship was not statistically significant in men. IRI subscale scores did not show significant main effects or interactions with sex in relation to social anxiety. The findings suggest a possible difference in how each sex experiences and/or develops social anxiety. This has implications for assessment and treatment. Future research should examine these relationships in more diverse psychiatric samples.
Bachelor of Science (B.S.)
College of Sciences
Orlando (Main) Campus
Berg, Samantha K., "Social Anxiety and Subtypes of Empathy: The Moderating Influence of Biological Sex" (2018). Honors in the Major Theses. 449.