Discrepancies between implicit and explicit self-esteem among adolescents with social anxiety disorder

Franziska Schreiber, Christiane Bohn, Idan M. Aderka, Ulrich Stangier, Regina Steil

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background and objectives: Previous studies have found high implicit self-esteem (ISE) to prevail concurrently with low explicit self-esteem (ESE) in socially anxious adults. This suggests that self-esteem discrepancies are associated with social anxiety disorder (SAD). Given that the onset of SAD often occurs in adolescence, we investigated self-esteem discrepancies between ISE and ESE in adolescents suffering from SAD. Methods: Two implicit measures (Affect Misattribution Procedure, Implicit Association Test) were used both before and after a social threat activation in 20 adolescents with SAD (14-20 years), and compared to 20 healthy adolescents who were matched for age and gender. The Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale, the Social Cognitions Questionnaire and Beck Depression Inventory were administered as explicit measures. We expected discrepant self-esteem (high ISE, low ESE) in adolescents with SAD, in comparison to congruent self-esteem (positive ISE, positive ESE) in healthy controls, after social threat activation. Results: Both the patient and control groups exhibited high positive ISE on both implicit measures, before as well as after social threat induction. Explicitly, patients suffering from SAD revealed lower levels of ESE, compared to the healthy adolescents. Conclusions: This study is the first to examine ISE and ESE in a clinical sample of adolescent patients with SAD. Our results suggest that SAD is associated with a discrepancy between high ISE and low ESE, after a social-threat manipulation. The findings are discussed in relation to other studies using implicit measures in SAD and may provide a more comprehensive understanding of the role of self-esteem in adolescent SAD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1074-1081
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2012


  • Adolescence
  • Affect Misattribution Procedure
  • Implicit Association Test
  • Implicit self-esteem
  • Social anxiety disorder
  • Social phobia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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