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Cognitive-behavioural models suggest that perfectionistic beliefs and anticipatory processing are key maintaining factors of social anxiety. The present study examined the moderating and mediating role that anticipatory processing has on the relationship between perfectionism and social anxiety. The sample consisted of 245 individuals from the general community who completed an online questionnaire package comprising depression, perfectionism, and social anxiety measures. Participants also rated their levels of anticipatory processing in response to vignettes describing an upcoming social interaction and performance situation. Results showed that maladaptive perfectionism and maladaptive anticipatory processing were positively associated with social anxiety. Furthermore, maladaptive anticipatory processes (stagnant deliberation and outcome fantasy) remained significantly and positively associated with social anxiety even after controlling for depression and maladaptive perfectionism, whereas adaptive anticipatory processes (plan rehearsal and problem analysis) were not significantly associated with social anxiety. These findings support current classifications of anticipatory processing in social anxiety. Contrary to predictions, maladaptive anticipatory processing did not moderate the relationship between maladaptive perfectionism and social anxiety. An exploratory analysis indicated that maladaptive anticipatory processing mediated the relationship between maladaptive perfectionism and social anxiety. Implications for therapeutic intervention are discussed.

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Journal Article

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