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01-10-2012 | Original Article | Uitgave 5/2012

Cognitive Therapy and Research 5/2012

Image Generation in Individuals with Generalized Social Phobia

Cognitive Therapy and Research > Uitgave 5/2012
Nader Amir, Sadia Najmi, Amanda S. Morrison


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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