Are individuals able to accurately report their own behaviour? An investigation of observer-respondent disparity of reported behaviours associated with social anxiety?
Adduono, Dani R.
Master of Science
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Social anxiety is characterized by the powerful fear of negative evaluation from others and a high level of self-focused attention (SFA). In addition, socially anxious individuals often engage in a variety of anxiety-related behaviours during a social situation. The purpose of the current investigation was to analyze the relationships between social anxiety, SFA, and anxiety-related behaviours and to assess the observer-respondent disparity in reports of anxiety-related behaviours. This study assessed 104 students from Lakehead University who were asked to complete a battery of self-report questionnaires and then partook in a social anxiety induction where they were asked to speak about themselves to two individuals during a video-conference. The participants were instructed to provide their best first-impression and were advised that the individuals they will be speaking to were instructed to only listen. The sessions were videotaped to permit observer ratings of the participant’s anxiety-related behaviour. Hierarchical regression analyses were executed to analyze the relationships among the different variables and a positive relationship was found between both social anxiety and SFA with safety behaviours. Additionally, a positive relationship was found between only social anxiety and the non-verbal behaviours measured with an established ethogram. Self-report ratings were then compared to the observer ratings and the results indicated that low and high levels of social anxiety were associated with under and overestimations of anxiety-related behaviour use, respectively. A similar pattern of results was found for reported SFA level. The findings from this study suggest that reliance on self-reported behaviour may not be the most accurate method of assessing behaviours associated with social anxiety, as individuals with high levels of social anxiety may not be able to accurately report their own behaviours.