The behavioral economics of social anxiety disorder reveal a robust effect for interpersonal traits

Thomas L. Rodebaugh*, Natasha A. Tonge, Jaclyn S. Weisman, Michelle H. Lim, Katya C. Fernandez, Ryan Bogdan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations

Abstract

Recent evidence suggests that reduced generosity among individuals with social anxiety disorder (SAD) in behavioral economic tasks may result from constraint in changing behavior according to interpersonal contingencies. That is, people with SAD may be slower to be more generous when the situation warrants. Conversely, more global effects on generosity may be related to interpersonal vindictiveness, a dimension only somewhat related to SAD. A total of 133 participants, 73 with the generalized form of SAD, completed self-report instruments and a behavioral economic task with simulated interpersonal (friend, romantic partner, stranger) interactions. In a separate visit, friends (n = 88) also came to the lab and rated participants on vindictiveness. Interpersonal vindictiveness was associated with reduced initial and overall giving to simulated friends. SAD predicted a lack of increased giving to a simulated friend, and attenuated an increase in giving to simulated known versus unknown players compared to participants without SAD. Friend-reported vindictiveness predicted in the same direction as diagnosis. However, the findings for SAD were less robust than those for vindictiveness. SAD is perhaps weakly related to behavioral constraint in economic tasks that simulate interpersonal interactions, whereas vindictiveness is strongly related to lower overall generosity as well as (via friend report) behavioral constraint. Further study is needed to better characterize the construct of vindictiveness. Our findings dovetail with the suggestion that SAD is related to impairment in the proposed affiliation and attachment system, but further suggest that direct study of that system may be more fruitful than focusing on disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)139-147
Number of pages9
JournalBehaviour Research and Therapy
Volume95
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2017

Keywords

  • Behavioral economics
  • Interpersonal processes
  • RDoC
  • Social anxiety disorder

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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