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Title: The role of inferential confusion in social anxiety : a quasi-experimental study
Author: Jensch, Graham
ISNI:       0000 0004 5356 6075
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 2014
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Objective: Inferential confusion is a reasoning process observed in obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) which is defined by a distrust of reality-based information in favour of imagined possibilities. Studies have shown inflated self-reported inferential confusion in mixed-anxiety populations. The current study hypothesised that individuals high in social anxiety (HSA) would be more influenced by possibility-based information than those low in social anxiety (LSA). Design: A quasi-experimental design was utilised. Participants completed the Inference Processes Task (IPT) that required them to make probability-based judgements (inferences) based upon possibility- and reality-based information for situations that typically trigger worries regarding social anxiety, OCD, and non-disorder based scenarios. Participants also completed self-report measures of social anxiety, inferential confusion, OCD symptoms, and general distress. Participants: On the basis of a self-report measure of social anxiety, participants were classified as either high (n = 102) or low (n = 68) in social anxiety. Participants were recruited using online advertisements on internet forums and social media websites. Participants in the HS A group doubted significantly more than the LSA group after the introduction of possibility- and reality-based information on the social anxiety-and OCD-based scenarios of the LPT. The groups did not differ regarding the impact of reality or possibility information on the non-disorder based scenario, although both groups were markedly influenced by possibility-based information. The HSA group scored significantly higher than the LSA group on the self-report measure of inferential confusion. Conclusions and Implications: High levels of social anxiety appeared to be associated with increased reliance upon possibilities and a dismissing of reality in threatening situations, suggesting inferential confusion. This implies that inferential confusion may be the result of a cognitive threat response rather than a symptom of a mental health condition. Future research and treatments implications are discussed.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Psych.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available