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Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) affects approximately 7% of the United States population yearly. Certain factors such as disturbed family functioning and the occurrence of adverse life events during childhood or adolescence significantly increase the risk of developing social anxiety later in life. This study proposal examines the relationship between childhood experiences with the severity and occurrence of SAD in the college population to see if childhood experiences affect the ability to focus on a single task after exposure to socially salient information. 250 undergraduate students will be randomly placed in either a control condition, without any exposure to a social conversation, or the Anxiety Manipulation condition, in which the experimenter will mention false, task-irrelevant information about the participant’s behavior and typical social anxiety symptoms. I predict that more severely anxious participants will perform worse on the working-memory task given to them after they are exposed to socially salient information present in the Anxiety Manipulation condition. I predict this decrease in performance will result from the socially anxious fear of negative evaluation which will cause said participants to divert their attention from the original task to their own behavior and the experimenter’s perception of their actions.
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Prusky, Shira, "Keeping It in the Family: How Family Functioning and Childhood Environment Impacts Social Anxiety in College Students" (2019). Senior Projects Spring 2019. 317.