Self-Compassion, Anticipatory Anxiety, and Fear of Evaluation in Social Anxiety

Project Abstract

Self-compassion involves treating yourself with kindness instead of judgement, understanding that pain and failure is experienced by everyone instead of isolating oneself, and being mindfully aware of painful thoughts and feelings instead of ruminating on them (Neff, 2003). The proposed research is interested in self-compassion's effect on social anxiety; it is a replication of a recent study (Harwood & Kocovski, 2017) and an attempt to extend its findings. Harwood and Kocovski (2017) led participants to believe that they would deliver a speech and compared anticipatory anxiety between two groups: one that had completed a self-compassion writing exercise, and one that had completed a control writing exercise. They found that among participants higher in social anxiety, those who completed the self-compassion writing task experienced less anticipatory anxiety before the speech task in comparison to participants who had completed the control writing task. The present study includes the addition of two dependent variables, fear of positive and negative evaluation, in order to examine how the same self-compassion exercise may also impact the fear of evaluation that individuals with social anxiety may experience before the same socially stressful speech task. Some research has already shown a correlation between self-compassion and fear of evaluation; less self-compassion is associated with greater fear of both positive and negative evaluation (Werner et al., 2012; Long & Neff, 2018). The following has been hypothesized: (1) In line with previous research (Harwood & Kocovski 2017), the self-compassion writing task will reduce anticipatory anxiety more for those higher in social anxiety (2) The self-compassion writing task will reduce fear of negative evaluation for those higher in social anxiety, and (3) The self-compassion writing task will reduce fear of positive evaluation for those higher in social anxiety. A common treatment for social anxiety disorder is exposure therapy. We know that the self-compassion exercise can lower anticipatory anxiety (Harwood & Kocovski, 2017), so if it is shown that it also lowers fear of evaluation, the literature may possess even stronger evidence that self-compassion exercises could potentially play a role in making exposure easier for those with social anxiety.

Funding Type

Research Grant

Academic College

College of Humanities and Fine Arts


Psychology/Nonprofit Leadership studies


Bachelors degree




Michael Bordieri, PhD

Academic College

College of Humanities and Fine Arts

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