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Individuals with social phobia report experiencing recurrent negative images of themselves in social situations. However, research on the role of visual imagery in social phobia has relied exclusively on self-report measures. In the first study, we used a visual image generation task with social-threat and neutral stimuli to test the hypothesis that individuals with Generalized Social Phobia (GSP, n = 32) are more efficient at generating images related to social-threat words than are non-anxious-controls (NACs, n = 28). We found that, contrary to our hypothesis, the GSP and NAC groups did not differ in speed of generating images related to social-threat words. However, the GSP group was significantly slower than the NAC group at generating images related to neutral words. To further examine the generation of neutral images, we conducted a second study using a well-validated neutral image generation task, and found that the GSP group (n = 24) was slower to generate neutral images than were the NAC (n = 21) and anxious-control (AC, n = 15) groups, which did not differ from each other. Taken together, findings from the two studies suggest that social phobia is characterized by less efficient generation of neutral images.
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- Image Generation in Individuals with Generalized Social Phobia
Amanda S. Morrison
- Springer US