Date of Award

8-12-2016

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Page Anderson

Abstract

The overall theme for this European-style dissertation is an examination of how social identities are represented in treatment studies for social anxiety disorder and how fears of confirming stereotypes about one’s social identities affect social anxiety disorder in the form of stereotype confirmation concerns. In the first chapter, I introduce social anxiety disorder (SAD), describe cognitive behavioral therapy for SAD, review recruitment strategies to increase the representation of social minority groups in treatment research, discuss the importance of accurately reporting the social identities represented in samples, describe the particular relevance of stereotypes for social anxiety disorder, and provide a theoretically grounded rationale for the ways in which stereotype confirmation concerns may impact the experience and treatment of social anxiety disorder. For the second chapter, I present a study that examines the extent to which the demographic characteristics of participants (e.g., age, gender) are reported in treatment outcome research for social anxiety disorder. The findings from this study illuminate who participates in clinical trials for social anxiety (and therefore, to whom they may apply), as well as the infrequency with which some social identities are reported. Failure to report demographic characteristics of participants treated for social anxiety disorder makes it impossible to determine the external validity of the empirical literature. It also begs the question of whether we may be failing to identify salient constructs related to the social identities of our participants that affect our understanding of the social anxiety disorder and its treatment. The third and fourth chapters present two papers on the effects of stereotype confirmation concerns on both the experience and the treatment of social anxiety disorder. The final chapter describes how the series of studies presented in this dissertation fits into research on social anxiety disorder, as well as directions for future research.

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