Investigating the relationships between bivalent fear of evaluation, core beliefs, depression and social anxiety symptoms


Social Anxiety Disorder is a mental health concern whereby individuals experience fear and discomfort in relation to situations where they can be publicly scrutinised, such as public speaking. It is not uncommon for undergraduate psychology students to experience some degree of social anxiety symptoms. Previous research has identified that fearing negative evaluation (e.g., worrying about being seen unfavourably and socially rejected) is a common risk factor to developing social anxiety symptoms. More recently, fearing positive evaluation (e.g., worrying about being seen too favourably and attracting competition) has become a new focus as a risk factor to developing social anxiety symptoms. Research is starting to identify that the way positive information is thought about may exacerbate feelings of social anxiety, and there is little research assessing core beliefs that guide how we feel about positive evaluation. Therefore, this research aims to investigate the relationships between bivalent (i.e., positive and negative) fear of evaluation, core beliefs, depression, and social anxiety symptoms.

Research Questions / Hypotheses

The aim of this research was to develop a scale that measures core-beliefs that may explain variance in fear of positive evaluation and social anxiety symptoms


300 REP participants completed this study


Participants completed a 30-minute online questionnaire containing validated social anxiety and fear of evaluation scales, as well as a pool of potential items for the scale development


The previous stage of this project used exploratory factor analysis to find the factor loading of items within the item pool. This stage used an independent sample in order to confirm a factor structure to continue the steps of scale validation. The analytic plan is to continue the validation process for this scale.


Fear of positive evaluation as a mechanism underpinning social anxiety symptoms is under-researched and under-represented in social anxiety research. Core-beliefs are thought in CBT to organise the way an individual interprets the social world around them. To identify core beliefs that relate to fear of positive evaluation has implications in advancing theory and helping clinicians to more effectively support their clients. The results are planned to be submitted as part of a PhD thesis and in an academic journal.