The impact bias in self and others: Affective and empathic forecasting in individuals with social anxiety

Kimberly A. Arditte Hall, Jutta Joormann, Matthias Siemer, Kiara R. Timpano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


People tend to overestimate the intensity and duration of affect (i.e., impact bias) when making predictions about their own and others’ responding, termed affective and empathic forecasting, respectively. Research links impact biases to clinical symptoms of affective disorders, but little work has been done to examine how social anxiety is related to affective and empathic forecasting biases. The current investigation included two studies examining these associations in independent samples of young adults with dimensionally distributed social anxiety symptoms. Study 1 (N = 100) examined the associations between social anxiety and affective and empathic forecasts in response to a series of novel hypothetical vignettes in which a second-person narrator (i.e., the self) elicited anger, disgust, or happiness from another person (i.e., the other). Study 2 utilized an innovative experimental paradigm involving N = 68 participant dyads. Overall, results supported the existence of affective and empathic forecasting biases. Further, symptoms of social anxiety were associated with the tendency to overestimate one's own and others’ negative affect and underestimate others’ positive affect. Such forecasting biases may help to explain the avoidance that is characteristic of individuals with social anxiety and could represent a fruitful target of cognitive behavioral intervention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)37-46
Number of pages10
JournalBehaviour Research and Therapy
StatePublished - Jul 1 2018


  • Impact bias
  • Information processing
  • Social anxiety disorder
  • Social cognition
  • Social phobia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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