Social anxiety and interpersonal stress generation: the moderating role of interpersonal distress

David M. Siegel, Taylor A. Burke, Jessica L. Hamilton, Marilyn L. Piccirillo, Adela Scharff, Lauren B. Alloy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Background and Objectives: Existing models of social anxiety scarcely account for interpersonal stress generation. These models also seldom include interpersonal factors that compound the effects of social anxiety. Given recent findings that two forms of interpersonal distress, perceived burdensomeness and thwarted belongingness, intensify social anxiety and cause interpersonal stress generation, these two constructs may be especially relevant to examining social anxiety and interpersonal stress generation together. Design: The current study extended prior research by examining the role of social anxiety in the occurrence of negative and positive interpersonal events and evaluated whether interpersonal distress moderated these associations. Methods: Undergraduate students (N = 243; M = 20.46 years; 83% female) completed self-report measures of social anxiety, perceived burdensomeness, and thwarted belongingness, as well as a self-report measure and clinician-rated interview assessing negative and positive interpersonal events that occurred over the past six weeks. Results: Higher levels of social anxiety were associated only with a higher occurrence of negative interpersonal dependent events, after controlling for depressive symptoms. This relationship was stronger among individuals who also reported higher levels of perceived burdensomeness, but not thwarted belongingness. Conclusions: It may be important to more strongly consider interpersonal stress generation in models of social anxiety.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)526-538
Number of pages13
JournalAnxiety, Stress and Coping
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 3 2018
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


  • Stress generation
  • interpersonal distress
  • perceived burdensomeness
  • social anxiety
  • thwarted belongingness


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