A Situational Context Training for Socially Anxious Children

  • Daniela SchwabEmail author
  • Anne Schienle
Brief Report


The processing of facial expressions is biased in social anxiety (SA). We tested whether a brief situational context training in the school setting might be helpful in changing biased facial processing and reducing relevant symptoms in children with SA. A final sample of 118 children aged 8 to 13 years with high vs. low SA were randomly assigned to a training group or a control group without intervention. During the training, the children were exposed to images depicting negative facial expressions with masked and later unmasked backgrounds, in order to demonstrate that negative expressions can also occur in emotion-irrelevant contexts (e.g., during onion cutting). Especially for socially anxious children, the intervention effectively reduced harmful expectations during the presentation of images showing negative facial expressions. Moreover, socially anxious children having undertaken the training were able to perform a subjectively more challenging social evaluation task in front of the class.


Social anxiety Facial expression processing Cognitive bias Situational context information Social evaluation 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

Daniela Schwab and Anne Schienle declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in this study were approved by the ethics committee of the University of Graz and were in accordance with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments.

Animal Rights Statements

All institutional and national guidelines for the care and use of laboratory animals were followed.

Informed Consent

All procedures followed were in accordance with the ethical standards of the responsible committee on human experimentation (national and institutional). Informed consent was obtained from all individual subjects participating in the study.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Clinical PsychologyUniversity of GrazGrazAustria

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