The tendencies to interpret social situations as threatening or hostile are called interpretation biases triggering fear or anger, avoidance or aggression, respectively. These biases play a substantial role in internalizing and externalizing problems, but the relationship is not always clear-cut. By measuring different biases in the same situation potential co-occurrences and their distinct roles in different disorders might be better understood. The current study validated an Ambiguous Social Scenario Task (ASST) in order to assess both socially anxious and socially callous interpretations, as well as their relations to emotional and behavioral problems.
A final sample of 390 participants filled in the ASST and questionnaires for social anxiety and psychopathic traits. Psychometric properties of the ASST were assessed in terms of factor analyses, internal consistency, convergent and discriminant validity.
A four-factor solution was established with the subscales ‘socially anxious’, ‘socially callous’, ‘neutral’ interpretations and ‘dealing with meanness’. Convergent and discriminant validity was shown for both socially anxious and socially callous interpretations. However, self-reported social anxiety correlated significantly positively with both socially anxious and callous interpretations, which also correlated positively.
The ASST is a promising measure indicating that different interpretations might co-occur.