Schema Content for Threat in Social Phobia

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Although cognitive theories of anxiety disorders suggest that anxious individuals are characterized by maladaptive schemata for threat, threat-related schema content has rarely been investigated empirically. In this study, participants with social phobia (n = 16) and nonanxious participants (n = 17) generated scripts, or event-based schemata, for two common scenarios, one social in nature, and one evaluative in nature. Social phobic participants listed events that corresponded to a similar macrostructure as the events listed by nonanxious participants. However, several events reflecting the experience of anxiety were included in their aggregate scripts, and their scripts reflected amore negative and less positive affective tone than the scripts of nonanxious participants. It is suggested that instances of maladaptive schema content are most likely to emerge when self-schemata are assessed in individuals reporting anxiety at a clinically significant level of severity.

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