Toronto Metropolitan University
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A Systematic Examination of Fear of Positive Evaluation in the Context of Social Anxiety

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posted on 2023-08-30, 18:37 authored by Gillian Audrey Wilson

There is recent evidence that individuals with social anxiety disorder (SAD) fear both negative and positive evaluation (e.g., Weeks, Heimberg, & Rodebaugh, 2008; Weeks & Howell, 2012). However, the existing literature has a number of limitations and unanswered questions regarding the measurement of fear of positive evaluation (FPE), reasons underlying FPE, and affective and cognitive responses associated with FPE. The current dissertation consisted of three separate, but related studies designed to address these limitations and questions. The aim of the first study was to develop and validate a measure of social anxiety, FPE, and fear of negative evaluation (FNE) called the Fear of Evaluation Scale (FES) that more clearly differentiates between FPE and FNE. The FES demonstrated satisfactory psychometric properties. Additionally, a bifactor model consisting of one general fear of evaluation factor with

two specific factors for FNE and FPE provided superior fit to the data. The second study involved an item analysis of the one existing measure of FPE to determine the extent to which it assesses FPE versus FNE, and to identify reasons underlying participants’ responses on this measure. The findings indicated that responses primarily reflected an underlying FNE; however, participants reported other reasons that did not reflect FNE. In the third study, participants completed a face-to-face social interaction task to examine emotional and cognitive responses to positive, negative, and neutral feedback. Compared to the nonclinical control group, the SAD

group reported significantly higher distress in response to negative and positive feedback over and above distress ratings provided before preparing for the task. The SAD group also perceived positive feedback as significantly less accurate than the nonclinical control group. Further, both groups rated negative feedback as significantly more distressing than positive and neutral feedback. Limitations of these three studies, theoretical and clinical implications of the findings, and future research directions are discussed.





  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • Psychology

Granting Institution

Ryerson University

LAC Thesis Type

  • Dissertation

Thesis Advisor

Martin Antony



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