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Evolutionary models: Practical and conceptual utility for the treatment and study of social anxiety disorderIt is well known that group living poses certain challenges in that some individuals will be potentially threatening (eliciting either fight and flight or submissive responses), while others offer potential opportunities for reproduction, and forming cooperative, sharing alliances (requiring approach and display behaviour). The navigation of these challenges has led to the evolution of mechanisms for the estimation of threat versus opportunity (approach and avoidance). This chapter explores social anxiety in this evolutionary context. It highlights recent adaptations to social competition by which social rank and position are competed for with demonstrations of attractiveness (e.g., talent, physical beauty, humour, intelligence, personality, altruism). This is competition to be chosen by others for various roles (e.g., as friends, team mates, sexual partners, work employees). This chapter builds on earlier models of social anxiety which focused on impression management, and links them to evolutionary concepts of social status and desirability competition.
Shyness, social anxiety, and social phobiaIn 1971, one of us conducted the now well-known Stanford Prison Experiment (Zimbardo, 1977), a study with the purpose of examining the role of situational factors in producing behaviors, thoughts, and feelings typically assumed to manifest as dispositional attributes of the person, such as sadism or submissiveness. Preselected normal college students, randomly assigned to play the role of prisoner or guard in a simulated prison, were having such extreme reactions—extreme stress as prisoners, and brutal and sadistic behavior as guards—that they had to be released early. The study demonstrated how powerful context and situation are in producing the syndrome of affect, behavior and cognition relating to authoritarianism, aggression, submission and despair.