UBC Theses and Dissertations
Cognitive biases in social anxiety : impact on the comprehension of verbal irony Trew, Jennifer L.
Social anxiety is associated with a number of cognitive biases that influence the way that social information is processed. One particular bias that has been identified, coined a judgmental bias (Foa, Franklin, Perry, & Herbert, 1996), involves overestimation of the probability and costs associated with negative social events. While research has established that judgmental biases occur in social anxiety, it is not clear whether they have a notable impact on cognitive processes in everyday life. The present study investigated the impact of social anxiety on the interpretation of verbal irony, a complex and commonly encountered form of ambiguous language, and whether judgmental biases play a mediating role in any observed interpretation biases. Participants high and low in social anxiety completed written measures of depression, judgmental bias, and irony interpretation. Mixed model analyses of variance conducted on several factor analytically derived interpretation scales suggested that, contrary to expectation, social anxiety had a negligible effect on the interpretation of both personal and non-personal instances of verbal irony, although it may have minimal gender specific effects on the use of specific types of comments. Potential covariates are explored and implications of the findings, limitations of the study, and future directions are discussed.
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