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A Reduced Self-Positive Belief Underpins Greater Sensitivity to Negative Evaluation in Socially Anxious Individuals

Hopkins, AK; Dolan, R; Button, KS; Moutoussis, M; (2021) A Reduced Self-Positive Belief Underpins Greater Sensitivity to Negative Evaluation in Socially Anxious Individuals. Computational Psychiatry , 5 (1) pp. 21-37. 10.5334/cpsy.57. Green open access

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Abstract

Positive self-beliefs are important for well-being, and are influenced by how others evaluate us during social interactions. Mechanistic accounts of self-beliefs have mostly relied on associative learning models. These account for choice behaviour but not for the explicit beliefs that trouble socially anxious patients. Neither do they speak to self-schemas, which underpin vulnerability according to psychological research. Here, we compared belief-based and associative computational models of social-evaluation, in individuals that varied in fear of negative evaluation (FNE), a core symptom of social anxiety. We used a novel analytic approach, ‘clinically informed model-fitting’, to determine the influence of FNE symptom scores on model parameters. We found that high-FNE participants learn more easily from negative feedback about themselves, manifesting in greater self-negative learning rates. Crucially, we provide evidence that this bias is underpinned by an overall reduced belief about self-positive attributes. The study population could be characterized equally well by belief-based or associative models, however large individual differences in model likelihood indicated that some individuals relied more on an associative (model-free), while others more on a belief-guided strategy. Our findings have therapeutic importance, as positive belief activation may be used to specifically modulate learning.

Type: Article
Title: A Reduced Self-Positive Belief Underpins Greater Sensitivity to Negative Evaluation in Socially Anxious Individuals
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.5334/cpsy.57
Publisher version: http://doi.org/10.5334/cpsy.57
Language: English
Additional information: © 2021 The Author(s). This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC-BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. See http://creativecommons.org/ licenses/by/4.0/.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology > Imaging Neuroscience
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10127474
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