Sensory-processing sensitivity: A model to predict social anxiety

Tim Campbell, Kate Moore

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterpeer-review

Abstract

Sensory-processing sensitivity: A model to predict social anxiety Timothy Campbell & A/Prof Kate Moore (Federation University Australia)Poster Display Period #2, The Gallery, Level 2, September 29 and September 30, 2018 Aim: Sensory-processing sensitivity, a more recently conceptualised dimension of personality, refers to people's depth of processing and emotional reactivity to environmental stimuli. Previous research has indicated that highly sensitive people are more acutely susceptible to experiencing social anxiety and related conditions. The aim in this study was to extend understanding of this relationship through an investigation of factors thought to be pertinent to both the functioning of highly sensitive people, and the onset and maintenance of social anxiety. A theory-based model was defined and tested proposing that the use of avoidant coping strategies mediates the relationship between sensory-processing sensitivity and social anxiety, and that the relationship between sensory-processing sensitivity and the use of avoidant coping strategies is moderated by the quality of the parental environment experienced in childhood. Design: A cross-sectional correlational study design was implemented to investigate the hypothesised model. Method: A sample of 353 adults (260 female, 92 males, mean age = 29.76 years) was recruited through social networking websites to participate in an online survey. The survey comprised four psychometric scales: Highly Sensitive Person Scale; Deakin Coping Scale Avoidant Subscale; Social Phobia Inventory; Parental Bonding Instrument (categories: Optimal; Not Optimal).Statistical testing of the mediation and moderation hypotheses were conducted utilising PROCESS analyses. Results: Correlations: as hypothesised, significant positive relationships were observed between sensory-processing sensitivity and both the use of avoidant coping strategies, r = .27, p < .001, and social anxiety r = .58, p < .001. A significant positive relationship was observed between the use of avoidant coping strategies and social anxiety, r = .42, p < .001. Mediation: as hypothesised, the indirect effect of sensory-processing sensitivity on social anxiety, via the use of avoidant coping strategies, was significant, R2 = .077, Sobel z = 4.107, p < .001, indicating a partial mediation effect of medium magnitude. Moderation: contrary to expectations, the interaction effect of sensory-processing sensitivity and parental bonding style upon the use of avoidant coping strategies was not significant, ΔR2 = .001, F(1, 349) = 0.42,p = .51. Conclusion: Using avoidance to cope—a strategy that affords poorprotection against social anxiety—appears to be an ingrained tendency of highly sensitive people that contributes to the greater prevalence of the condition these people typically experience. Consistent with a diathesis-stress perspective, high levels of sensory-processing sensitivity may be a marker of predispositional vulnerability to social anxiety
Original languageEnglish
Pages84-84
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 27 Dec 2018
Externally publishedYes
EventAustralian Psychological Society (APS) Annual Conference 2018 - Sydney, Australia
Duration: 27 Sep 201830 Sep 2018

Conference

ConferenceAustralian Psychological Society (APS) Annual Conference 2018
Abbreviated titleAPS Congress 2018
CountryAustralia
CitySydney
Period27/09/1830/09/18

Keywords

  • Sensory-processing sensitivity
  • Social anxiety
  • Coping
  • Parental bonding
  • Moderated-mediation model

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