Swipe right, swipe left: Initial interactions in social anxiety disorder.

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Individuals with SAD have difficulties initiating and maintaining relationships. However, little is known about the preinteraction behavior of individuals with SAD. Individuals with (n = 40) and without SAD (n = 40) who reported being attracted to individuals of the opposite sex participated in a preregistered lab-based experiment using a novel task similar to existing initial interaction/dating applications. Specifically, participants viewed 112 profiles of individuals from the opposite sex that included pictures (either happy/smiling or neutral) and descriptive texts and were requested to choose partners for a future interaction. Participants could swipe right to indicate their willingness to meet an individual, swipe left to indicate their lack of willingness to meet the individual, or press a button to receive more information before making their decision. Participants were also requested to provide a photo of themselves and write a short description of themselves ostensibly for inclusion in the database. We found that individuals with SAD were less likely to swipe right compared to individuals without SAD, and their likelihood to swipe right did not increase in response to happy/smiling pictures. Individuals with SAD also sought less information about others before making their swiping decisions compared to individuals without SAD. Finally, individuals with SAD provided shorter self-descriptions and more neutral pictures compared to individuals without SAD. These findings could not be accounted for by depression and remained above and beyond depressive symptoms. Our findings suggest that significant SAD-related biases may exist even in preinteraction stages of relationship development (i.e., before initial interactions occur) and research and clinical implications are discussed. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2022 APA, all rights reserved)

The findings of the present study suggest that individuals with social anxiety disorder demonstrate a number of biases when engaged in choosing partners for initial interactions such as dating. These biases may make it harder for them to find interaction and dating partners, and may affirm negative beliefs they have about themselves and others. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2022 APA, all rights reserved)
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)435-446
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Psychopathology and Clinical Science
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2022


  • Human Sex Differences
  • Social Dating
  • Social Phobia
  • Exposure
  • Self-Presentation
  • Partners


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