Monday, May 21, 2012

Avoiding giving speeches is the most common social fear for Brazilian university students

In February the Journal of Affective Disorders published an article by C. A. Baptista et al. titled "Social phobia in Brazilian university students: prevalence, under-recognition and academic impairment in women." You can read the abstract here.

They surveyed 2319 students at two public universities and one private university in the state of Sao Paulo (1294 women and 1025 men). Students were given the Brazilian version of the Social Phobia Inventory (SPIN), which evaluated 17 symptoms of fear and avoidance on a scale from 0 to 4 where:

0 = not at all
1 = a little
2 = somewhat
3 = very much
4 = extremely

Students also were screened for social phobia using the three-question MINI-SPIN, and those with high scores were diagnosed using the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV. 237 or 10.2% of the sample were diagnosed with social phobia. (Another 55 who were screened weren’t diagnosed but were estimated likely to have social phobia, for a total of 11.6%).

Results for items ranked 3 or higher on the scale for the SPIN by the entire sample are shown above in a bar chart. (Click on it to see a larger version). Avoids speeches was the most common social fear, followed by avoids criticism, fear of criticism, bothered by blushing, and fear of embarrassment. Fear of people in authority and avoiding talking to them were ranked very low, as were fear and avoidance of parties. In 2010 I discussed how Public speaking is the worst social fear for both Swedish and Indian college students. Brazilian students are similar. 

Baptista et al also tabulated results from dividing the sample into a control group (2082) and those with social phobia (237). Those results are shown in another bar chart. For those with social phobia (shown in red) all 17 items had higher percentages than the second highest item did for the control group (shown in gray).

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