Ecological Validity in Social Anxiety Research
The objective of this study is to investigate whether the impact of social anxiety on state anxiety, visual attention, autonomic and endocrine reactions varies depending on the experimental environment. We anticipate that the influence of social anxiety on our outcome variables will differ based on whether these variables were measured in a laboratory setting, a virtual environment, or a realistic field scenario.
Additionally, we aim to examine specific characteristics of the experimental tasks or situations, such as the level of social interaction and the aversiveness of the stressor. We hypothesize that both of these factors will magnify the effects of social anxiety on the outcome measures. In relation to different experimental phases (e.g., baseline, anticipation, reactivity, and recovery from stressors), we intend to explore potential interactions between the phase and the social anxiety group with respect to the measured reactions.
Furthermore, we seek to assess the effects of sample characteristics, such as age and the clinical severity of social anxiety. We anticipate that studies comparing healthy controls with individuals meeting diagnostic criteria for Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) will yield stronger effects compared to studies that divide their sample into high and low socially anxious subgroups based on statistical criteria. In the final step, we will evaluate whether the reported effects are influenced by methodological factors, such as the questionnaires used, publication status, or the overall quality of the primary studies.