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The longitudinal relationship between fear of positive evaluation and fear of negative evaluation

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Available research suggests that fear of negative evaluation and fear of positive evaluation are related but distinct constructs that each contribute to social anxiety, implying a need to focus on these fears in treatment. Yet, this research is almost entirely based on cross-sectional data. We examined the longitudinal relationship between fears of positive and negative evaluation over three time points in a sample of undergraduate students. We tested competing models consistent with two basic positions regarding these fears: (1) that fear of positive evaluation only appears to affect social anxiety because it arises from the same, single underlying trait as fear of negative evaluation, and (2) fears of positive and negative evaluation are correlated, but clearly distinct, constructs. The best-fitting model was an autoregressive latent-trajectory model in which each type of fear had a separate trait-like component. The correlation between these trait-like components appeared to fully account for the relationships between these constructs over time. This investigation adds to the evidence in support of the second position described above: fear of positive evaluation is best interpreted as a separate construct from fear of negative evaluation.
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Keywords: fear of negative evaluation; fear of positive evaluation; longitudinal; social anxiety

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Psychology,Washington University, 1 Brookings Dr, Campus Box 1125Saint Louis,MO,63130, USA 2: 249 Porter Hall,Ohio University, Athens,OH,45701, USA 3: Psychology Department, 419 Weiss Hall,Temple University, 1701 N. 13th StPhiladelphia,PA,19122, USA

Publication date: 01 March 2012

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