Interpersonal processes in social phobia

Clin Psychol Rev. 2004 Nov;24(7):857-82. doi: 10.1016/j.cpr.2004.07.006.


Social phobia is a condition in which anxiety impairs the person's ability to relate to others. Here, we draw on concepts from interpersonal theory to examine the literature on the role of interpersonal processes in creating and maintaining this disorder. Studies that examine interpersonal interactions with significant others and strangers are reviewed. We next consider topics of particular relevance to relationship impairment, such as the effect of anxiety on cognitive processing of social information, and the social developmental pathways to social phobia. The impact of interpersonal factors on the process and outcome of cognitive-behavioral treatment is also discussed. Finally, we identify emerging themes in the research literature and consider directions for future work. Throughout the paper we highlight topics central to the interpersonal perspective, such as the self-perpetuating interpersonal cycle, interpersonal variability in social phobia, and the relational nature of self-related information.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety / complications
  • Anxiety / psychology*
  • Cognition
  • Cues
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Phobic Disorders / complications
  • Phobic Disorders / psychology*
  • Social Perception