An Experience Sampling Approach to Emotion Dysregulation in Social Anxiety Disorder

Fallon R. Goodman

Advisor: Todd B. Kashdan, PhD, Department of Psychology

Committee Members: Jerome Short, Leah Adams

David J. King Hall, #2064
April 25, 2018, 12:00 PM to 02:00 PM


Social anxiety disorder (SAD) is characterized by emotion dysregulation. People with SAD display rigid patterns of avoidance and hyper-focus on managing their emotions rather than attending to the world unfolding around them. Despite considerable research on types of emotion regulation strategies used by people with SAD, we know little about the beliefs that guide strategy use and how ineffective emotion regulation unfolds. The present research aimed to fill these gaps. Participants were community adults diagnosed with SAD and healthy controls who completed baseline surveys and a 14-day daily diary study. In Study 1, we examined how two types of beliefs about emotions—malleability beliefs and the valuing of emotional control—predicted emotion regulation strategy use. Compared with controls, people with SAD rated emotions as less malleable and less controllable. For both groups, emotion malleability beliefs were negatively associated with trait and daily suppression and positively associated with trait and daily reappraisal. Emotion control values were positively associated with trait (but not daily) suppression. This relationship was moderated by SAD diagnosis, such that the relationship between emotion control values and suppression was stronger for people with SAD than healthy controls. In Study 2, we examined how anxiety interfered with the pursuit of personal strivings and the presence of meaning in life (MIL) on a daily basis. People with SAD reported greater interference with the pursuit of strivings due to anxiety compared with healthy controls. Anxiety interference was inversely associated with daily meaning, and this relationship was moderated by SAD diagnosis. For people with SAD, anxiety interference was strongly, negatively associated with daily MIL but for healthy controls, anxiety inference was unrelated to daily MIL. Taken together, these results suggest that people with SAD hold rigid emotion beliefs that perpetuate maladaptive emotion regulation patterns, some of which interfere with pursuing strivings and deriving a sense of MIL.