Those who suffer from social anxiety underestimate others’ opinions of their social abilities and way of being. Another way of thinking about this is that people who suffer from social anxiety are very harsh with themselves about their social interactions; consequently, they avoid social interaction because of their own negative evaluation of themselves, not because of others’ evaluation of them. Folks with social anxiety are too hard on themselves and rely on their own perceptions instead of objective information that they gather from other people.
This research provides hope for those who suffer from social anxiety because they can challenge their own negative evaluations of themselves and others’ with objective information. Hopefully, they can begin to form a more positive opinion of their social interactions and develop more intimate friendships and relationships.
Another interesting aspect of this research is that a person with social anxiety perceives the quality and intimacy of their relationships differently than their partners and friends. In other words, people with social anxiety perceive the level of intimacy as far less than their friend or partner.