Covariation bias for social events and signs of (dis)approval in high and low socially anxious individuals

Peter J de Jong, Victorine de Graaf-Peters, Wiljo J P J van Hout, Rineke van Wees

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


In two covariation bias experiments, we investigated whether socially anxious women overestimate the contingency between social events and signs of rejection and/or to underestimate the contingency between social events and approval. Participants were exposed to descriptions of ambiguous or negative social events, situations involving animals, and nature scenes that were randomly paired with disgusting, happy, and neutral faces. Socially anxious participants reported enhanced belongingness between ambiguous events and signs of rejection, together with reduced belongingness between negative events and approval. This contributes to previous findings suggesting that socially anxious individuals suffer from fear-confirming interpretive biases. There was no evidence for enhanced negative or reduced positive covariation bias in socially anxious individuals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)359-373
JournalJournal of behavior therapy and experimental psychiatry
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2009



  • psychology
  • social behaviour
  • anxiety

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