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Social Anxiety and Word Use: How Environments Can Influence Words. Heather C. Morgan Department of Psychology Dr. Adriel Boals Department of Psychology College of Arts and Sciences University of North Texas. Language as a focus of interest. Pinker (2003)

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Social anxiety and word use how environments can influence words

Social Anxiety and Word Use: How Environments Can Influence Words

Heather C. Morgan

Department of Psychology

Dr. Adriel Boals

Department of Psychology

College of Arts and Sciences

University of North Texas


Language as a focus of interest
Language as a focus of interest Words

  • Pinker (2003)

    • Executive function, negotiates relationships, remembered as content

  • Pennebaker (2007, Newman et al., 2008)

    • Males use more preposition and articles

      • Socially detached form of speech

    • Females use more first person singular, function words, and social references

      • Reflects various group processes

    • Depressed people use more first person singulars (2003)


Social influence on language
Social Influence on Language Words

  • Communication Accommodation Theory

    • Language is used to negotiate the social distance to another person

  • Social Anxiety

    • Results from one doubting themselves to be able to create an intended impression

      • Promotes longer silences in conversations

      • Person takes longer to respond


Social physique anxiety spa
Social Physique Anxiety (SPA) Words

  • Social anxiety: concern of how others view their physical appearance (Russell, 2002)

    • Presence of others reduces SPA (Carron et al., 1999)

    • Friends are a source of protection compared to strangers (Mack et al., 2007)

    • Males have a stronger and more negative effect of SPA (Mack et al., 2007)


Gender and stress responses
Gender and Stress Responses Words

  • Anxiety produces a stress response

  • Tend and Befriend vs. Fight or Flight

    • Nurturing and Cooperation instead of competition (Taylor, 2006)

  • Threat vs. Challenge (Ennis et al., 2001)

    • Males with challenge appraisal had significant increase in cortisol, threat appraisal resulted with no change in hormonal levels

    • Females with challenge appraisal had significant decrease in cortisol levels


Hypotheses
Hypotheses Words

1. General gender difference of word use

a. Females use more first person singulars and self references than males

b. Males use more prepositions and articles than females

2. There is an interaction of gender and state anxiety on language use

a. Females have no change in word use as anxiety increases

b. Males use more social references when their state anxiety levels increase


Participants
Participants Words

  • 94 undergraduates from the University of North Texas who received partial course credit

    • Males: n = 33

    • Females: n = 61


Methods
Methods Words

  • Public speaking task

  • State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI; Spielberger et al., 1970)

  • Demographics

  • Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC; Pennebaker, 2007)


Word use across genders
Word Use Across Genders Words

Note. *p < .05, **p < .01, ***p < .001


Influences of anxiety on use of social words by gender
Influences of Anxiety on Use of Social Words by Gender Words

  • Adjusted R2 = .05, p = .06

  • Significant predictors of social words

    • Gender:

      • F(1, 89) = 2.21, p < .05, β = -.84

    • State anxiety is NOT

      • β = -.01, p > .05

    • Interaction between state anxiety and gender

      • F(1, 89) = 1.98, p < .05, β = .75


Correlations
Correlations Words

  • Corroborated past research of general gender differences of word use

  • Males had moderate correlation of state anxiety levels and percentage of social word use

    • r = .48, p < .01

  • Women had NO correlation of state anxiety levels and percentage of social word use

    • r = .007, p > .05


State anxiety and social words
State anxiety and Social Words Words

Males

Females

State Anxiety Levels

Percentage of Social Words Used


Interpretations of results
Interpretations of Results Words

  • SPA reduction

    • Males, who are more impacted by this type of anxiety, use a higher percentage of social words

      • This reflects an increase in words expressing group related processes

      • Being around others alleviates SPA, perhaps the language that males utilize is being used as a tool to reduce anxiety levels

    • Males’ word use may reflect more social comparisons


Interpretations
Interpretations Words

  • Differences in the stress responses between genders is not reflected in word use

  • Females would be expected to have an increase in social words as anxiety levels increase (tend and befriend)

    • Lack of this relationship shows that males utilize word use differently

    • Specifically when talking about body image, males may just compare themselves more to others than females


References
References Words

  • Carren, A. V., Estabrooks, P. A., Horton, H., Prapavessis, H., & Hausenblas, H. A. (1999). Reductions in the social anxiety of women associated with group membership distraction, anonymity, security, or diffusion of evaluation. Group Dynamics, 3, 152-160.

  • Ennis, M., Kelly, K. S., & Lambert, P. L. (2001). Sex differences in cortisol during anticipation of a psychological stressor: Possible support for the tend-and-befriend hypothesis. Stress and Health, 17, 253-261.

  • Mack, D. E., Strong, H. A., Kowalski, K. C., and Crocker, P. R. E. (2007). Does friendship matter? An examination of social physique anxiety in adolescence. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 3, 1248-1264.

  • Newman, M. L., Groom, C. J., & Handelman, L. D., and Pennebaker, J. W. (2008). Gender differences in language use: An analysis of 14,000 text samples. Discourse Processes,45, 211-236. DOI: 10.1080/01638530802073712.

  • Pennebaker, J. W., Booth, R. J. & Francis, M. E. (2007). Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count: LIWC 2007. Austin, TX: LIWC (www.liwc.net).

  • Pennebaker, J.W., Mehl, M. R., & Niederhoffer, K. G. (2003). Psychological aspects of natural language use: Our words, our selves. Annual Review of Psychology,54, 547-77. DOI: 10.1146/annurev.psych.54.101601.145041.

  • Pinker, S. (2003). The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature. New York, NY: Penguin Books

  • Russell, W. D. (2002). Comparison of self-esteem, body dissatisfaction, and social physique anxiety across males of different exercise frequency and racial background. Journal of Sport Behavior, 25, 74-90.

  • Spielberger, C. D., Gorsuch, R. L., & Luschene, R. (1970). Test manual for the state-trait anxiety inventory. Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press.

  • Taylor, S. E. (2006). Tend and Befriend: Biobehavioral bases of affiliation under stress. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 15, 273-277.


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