Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.


Psychological and Brain Sciences

Committee Chair

Woodruff-Borden, Janet

Author's Keywords

Metacognition; Post-event processing; Social anxiety; Anticipatory processing; Perseverative thought; Path analysis


Social phobia; Metacognition


Social anxiety is prevalent and debilitating. Contemporary models of social anxiety posit that negative, self-focused thought aids in the maintenance of social anxiety symptoms. Although these models emphasize in-situation cognition, recent findings have linked two perseverative thought constructs, anticipatory processing (pre-event) and post-event processing (post-event), to social anxiety symptoms. The current study was designed to investigate whether these maladaptive thinking styles are perpetuated by the superordinate process of metacognition. In particular, three domains of metacognition were included in the current study: metacognitive beliefs, metacognitive monitoring, and metacognitive (attentional) control. A hypothesized model wherein these three metacognitive processes maintain social anxiety symptoms via anticipatory and post-event processing was tested using path analysis. Previously established direct and hypothesized indirect relationships within this model were evaluated. One hundred fifty four undergraduate students from a large Midwestern university participated in the study and provided self-report data regarding the mentioned constructs. Results indicate that, overall, this model was a good fit for the data. Contrary to expectations, a number of the previously established direct relationships failed to reach statistical significance within the context of the path model. In terms of indirect relationships, only one pathway was significant. The indirect pathway between metacognitive beliefs and social anxiety symptoms via anticipatory processing was significant. Overall these findings suggest that cognitive phenomena associated with social anxiety interact dynamically. Moreover, these findings corroborate Wells' model of psychological distress as it suggests that metacognitive beliefs (positive and negative) held about anticipatory processing sustains it and, in turn, perpetuates symptoms of social anxiety.