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A Validation of an Ambiguous Social Scenario Task for Socially Anxious and Socially Callous Interpretations



The tendencies to interpret social situations as threatening or hostile are called interpretation biases triggering fear or anger, avoidance or aggression, respectively. These biases play a substantial role in internalizing and externalizing problems, but the relationship is not always clear-cut. By measuring different biases in the same situation potential co-occurrences and their distinct roles in different disorders might be better understood. The current study validated an Ambiguous Social Scenario Task (ASST) in order to assess both socially anxious and socially callous interpretations, as well as their relations to emotional and behavioral problems.


A final sample of 390 participants filled in the ASST and questionnaires for social anxiety and psychopathic traits. Psychometric properties of the ASST were assessed in terms of factor analyses, internal consistency, convergent and discriminant validity.


A four-factor solution was established with the subscales ‘socially anxious’, ‘socially callous’, ‘neutral’ interpretations and ‘dealing with meanness’. Convergent and discriminant validity was shown for both socially anxious and socially callous interpretations. However, self-reported social anxiety correlated significantly positively with both socially anxious and callous interpretations, which also correlated positively.


The ASST is a promising measure indicating that different interpretations might co-occur.

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Data Availability

The datasets generated during and/or analyzed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.


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We want to thank dr. Marisol Voncken and Lisan Henricks for their cooperation in developing the Ambiguous Social Scenario Task. We are grateful to the students assistants who helped collecting the data, as well as to the participants who participated in the study. Finally, we want to thank the two reviewers that helped us to improve our work.


This study was supported by the Behavioural Science Instritute and the department of Experimental Psychopathology and Treatment of the Radboud University in Nijmegen, the Netherlands.

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All authors contributed to the study conception and design. Material preparation and data collection were performed by W.-G. Lange and A. Dapprich. Analyses were conducted by A. Dapprich. The first draft of the manuscript was written by A. Dapprich. All authors commented on previous versions of the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Anna L. Dapprich.

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Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

Approval for the studies that constituted to the current project was obtained from the ethics committee of Radboud University in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. The procedures used in this study adhere to the tenets of the Declaration of Helsinki.

Research involving Human and Animal Participants

No animal studies were carried out by the authors for this article.

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Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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Dapprich, A.L., Lange, WG., Cima, M. et al. A Validation of an Ambiguous Social Scenario Task for Socially Anxious and Socially Callous Interpretations. Cogn Ther Res 46, 608–619 (2022).

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  • Cognitive biases
  • Internalizing
  • Externalizing
  • Transdiagnostic mechanisms