Interpretation biases in social anxiety: Response generation, response selection, and self-appraisals

Jonathan D. Huppert*, Radhika V. Pasupuleti, Edna B. Foa, Andrew Mathews

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

96 Scopus citations


Cognitive theories propose that the resolution of ambiguity is related to the maintenance of social anxiety. A sentence completion task was used to examine how individuals high (n=26) and low (n=23) in social anxiety resolve ambiguous social sentences. Individuals were asked to generate as many responses as came to mind for each sentence, and then to endorse the response that best completes the sentence. Total responses, first responses, and endorsed responses were examined separately. Results indicated that high anxious individuals had more negative and anxious responses and fewer positive and neutral responses than low anxious individuals on all sentence completion measures. In contrast, a self-report measure of interpretation bias indicated that more of negative and anxious appraisals were related to social anxiety, while positive and neutral appraisals were not. Results are discussed in terms of a multi-stage processing model of interpretation biases.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1505-1515
Number of pages11
JournalBehaviour Research and Therapy
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2007
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank Richard G. Heimberg for comments on a previous draft, and Rustin Simpson for collecting and coding data. This paper was funded by NIMH grant 5K23MH064491 awarded to the first author.


  • Cognitive mechanisms
  • Depression
  • Interpretation bias
  • Social anxiety


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