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Previous studies have indicated that people with social anxiety disorder (SAD) often experience spontaneous, recurrent images (SRI). It was assumed that Koreans with interdependent self-views may contain more features related to social contexts in their self-images than those reported in Western cultures.
In the present study, we aimed to explore the prevalence and content of SRIs in individuals with SAD in Korea. Furthermore, we investigated the relationship between features of SRIs and variables of SAD.
Sixty-four individuals with SAD (27.00 ± 7.42 years, 64.1% female), diagnosed with SAD, completed self-report questionnaires related to social anxiety. Afterwards, a semi-structured interview was used to assess features and content of the individuals’ SRI.
Thirty (47%) of the participants reported experiencing SRIs in social situations. The content of the SRIs were classified under three themes: negative self-images, negative images of others, and abstract images. The distress level of SRIs was positively associated with social phobia scales (r = .385, p < .05) and physical anxiety symptoms (r = .478, p < .05). Frequency of SRIs was positively associated with avoidance scores (r = .402, p < .05).
The results demonstrated differences in the prevalence and content of the SRIs between Western and non-Western cultures. Fewer individuals with SAD in Korea reported having SRIs, and the content of these SRIs involved people other than the self. Some features of SRIs were associated with variables of SAD.
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