Department of Psychology, University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Lincoln, NE 68588, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.
Recent research suggests the presence of both common and disorder-specific emotion regulation deficits across the anxiety disorders (Turk et al., 2005), including those that may be uniquely characteristic of social phobia (SP; Kashdan & Breen, 2008; Kashdan & Steger, 2006; Turk et al., 2005). The purpose of the present study was to replicate and expand upon this growing literature in important directions. The initial portion of this study involved administration of relevant self-report symptom, emotion, and emotion regulation survey measures to a large undergraduate sample (N = 784). Scores on several symptom measures were used to create a SP analogue group, generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) analogue group (anxious control group), and non-anxious control group. Expanding upon previous work, a subset of these participants (SP = 19; GAD = 23; control = 40) then participated in computerized experience-sampling (ES), a methodology with numerous advantages over traditional self-report (Bolger et al., 2003). ES items designed for this study assessed (in “state” format) situational factors, disorder-specific symptoms, emotional experience, and relevant emotion regulation constructs at randomized intervals on multiple occasions per day over the course of one week. Consistent with previous work, group comparisons of traditional survey data revealed evidence of less positive affect, greater negative affect, and broad emotion regulation deficits in both the SP and GAD groups when compared with non-anxious controls. A greater tendency to suppress the expression of emotion and deficits in emotional awareness and clarity appeared to uniquely characterize the SP group. At the level of moment-to-moment experience, however, no group differences with regard to the experience, expression, awareness, or acceptance of (positive or negative) emotion were found. ES data did provide some further indication that SP may uniquely involve deficits in the clarity of emotion. Implications for emotion dysregulation conceptualizations of SP and GAD, symptoms of these disorders in daily life, limitations, and suggestions for further research are discussed.