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Social anxiety and dissociation: the moderating role of emotion regulation


Social anxiety is associated with dissociative experiences, which are thought to occur when coping or avoidance is unavailable, and distress is experienced. Emotion regulation difficulties maintain social anxiety. The current study examined the moderating effect of emotion regulation on social anxiety and dissociation. It was hypothesized that social anxiety would be positively associated with dissociation and that emotion regulation difficulties would moderate the relationship between social anxiety and dissociation such that the relationship would be stronger at higher levels of emotion regulation difficulties. College students aged 18 or older (n = 572) were recruited from a large public university. All participants completed measures of social anxiety, emotion regulation, and dissociation as part of a larger online study. Results supported both hypotheses. Future studies should investigate dissociative symptoms during times of acute stress or anxiety in social anxiety, how emotion regulation difficulties are associated with the genesis of dissociative symptoms, and how these variables are related in more diverse community samples.

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This study was not funded.

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MC designed and conducted the original study, developed the hypotheses for this manuscript, conducted the statistical analyses, and wrote the initial drafts of the introduction and method, results, and discussion sections. ARN assisted in designing the original study and conducting the statistical analyses, and assisted with writing the introduction, method, results, and discussion sections. All authors contributed to and have approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Matthew A. Cook.

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All authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

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Cook, M.A., Newins, A.R. Social anxiety and dissociation: the moderating role of emotion regulation. Motiv Emot 45, 345–353 (2021).

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  • Social anxiety
  • Emotion regulation difficulties
  • Dissociation
  • Depersonalization
  • Derealization
  • Moderation