Authors: Juliane Jopp; Dorothea König-Teshnizi; Christoph Burger
Objective: Social anxiety is associated with a strong fear of negative evaluation (FNE). Studies have shown that people with social anxiety disorder (SAD) are further very self-critical and show low levels of self-compassion. Thus, the first research question hypothesized a negative correlation between self-compassion and FNE. Moreover, self-compassion is discussed to be a form of emotion regulation in a way that it enhances adaptive and buffers against maladaptive emotion regulation strategies. So far, this mediation effect was only tested on depression, stress and PTSD. Therefore, the second research question testes whether the emotion regulation strategies cognitive reappraisal, rumination and suppression acted as mediators between self-compassion and FNE.
Method: For this cross-sectional study, 407 university students were recruited (54.1% female, M = 24.64 years, SD = 3.61). The paper-pencil questionnaire included the Brief Fear of Negative Evaluation Scale (BFNE), the Self-Compassion Scale (SCS-D) as well as the Perservative Thinking Questionnaire (PTQ) with the rumination scale and the Emotion Regulation Questionnaire (ERQ) with the suppression and reappraisal scales.
Results: The results showed a significant strong negative correlation between self-compassion and FNE. Of the three emotion regulation strategies, only rumination revealed a significant, partial mediation effect between self-compassion and FNE.
Conclusion: In line with previous studies, we found that people with lower levels of self-compassion showed higher levels of FNE. The results of the mediation analyses indicate that for people who fear of being evaluated in social situations, self-compassion might be helpful in reducing excessive rumination about their performance after the social event. Since people with SAD are particularly self-critical, this could be a relevant finding for future treatments of people with SAD.