Predictors of Excessive Reassurance Seeking in Social Anxiety
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Excessive reassurance seeking has been conceptualized as a maladaptive coping strategy to lessen psychological distress among people struggling with anxiety and depression. Surprisingly, little research has been conducted on the nature and consequences of excessive reassurance seeking in individuals with social anxiety, who tend to worry about the impression they make in evaluative social contexts. We theorized that heightened feelings of social self- doubt may contribute to reassurance seeking behaviours in social anxiety, and that this association may be amplified by increased engagement in post-event processing, a form of ruminative mental replay in which negative self-evaluation is prominent. To address these questions in an initial study, we recruited 461 undergraduate participants for a pre-registered correlational study. Hierarchical regression analyses supported hypotheses, revealing that for participants with more impairing symptoms of social anxiety, greater self-doubt was associated with greater levels of reassurance seeking, but only when post-event processing was high. These findings, which are consistent with cognitive models of social anxiety, require replication and extension in naturalistic and experimental studies with diverse samples. The use of excessive reassurance seeking represents a potential barrier in interpersonal communication that may push others away and lead to suboptimal social support. Insights gleaned from this study as well as subsequent replication and extension studies could be beneficial for helping to develop therapeutic interventions that reduce self-doubt and rumination and improve social support seeking strategies and outcomes for those struggling with social anxiety.
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Van Bui (2023). Predictors of Excessive Reassurance Seeking in Social Anxiety. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/19737