Social anxiety and the Big Five personality traits: the interactive relationship of trust and openness

Cogn Behav Ther. 2015;44(3):212-22. doi: 10.1080/16506073.2015.1008032. Epub 2015 Feb 23.


It is well established that social anxiety (SA) has a positive relationship with neuroticism and a negative relationship with extraversion. However, findings on the relationships between SA and agreeableness, conscientiousness, and openness to experience are mixed. In regard to facet-level personality traits, SA is negatively correlated with trust (a facet of agreeableness) and self-efficacy (a facet of conscientiousness). No research has examined interactions among the Big Five personality traits (e.g., extraversion) and facet levels of personality in relation to SA. In two studies using undergraduate samples (N = 502; N = 698), we examined the relationships between trust, self-efficacy, the Big Five, and SA. SA correlated positively with neuroticism, negatively with extraversion, and had weaker relationships with agreeableness, openness, and trust. In linear regression predicting SA, there was a significant interaction between trust and openness over and above gender. In addition to supporting previous research on SA and the Big Five, we found that openness is related to SA for individuals low in trust. Our results suggest that high openness may protect against the higher SA levels associated with low trust.

Keywords: Big Five; personality; self-efficacy; social anxiety; trust.

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety Disorders / psychology*
  • Extraversion, Psychological
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neuroticism
  • Personality Inventory
  • Personality*
  • Self Efficacy
  • Trust*
  • Young Adult