Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Faculty of Science

First Advisor

Nancy Kocovski

Advisor Role

Thesis Supervisor


Mindfulness-based interventions have been used in the treatment of social anxiety with initial success. Mindfulness is defined as an awareness and acceptance of the present moment. Acceptance when used as a coping strategy is related to reduced distress during anxiety-provoking tasks and increased willingness to experience unpleasant events. The purpose of this research was to examine acceptance, willingness and distress in the context of social anxiety and was threefold. The first study was designed to develop an instrument designed to assess acceptance specific to social anxiety. In Study 1, a sample of 352 undergraduates completed the initial 56-item pool of the Social Anxiety-Acceptance and Action Questionnaire (SA-AAQ) with the goal of item reduction. The second study was designed to validate this measure and clarify the factor structure of the SA-AAQ. Participants (n = 339) completed the SA-AAQ in addition to measures of mindfulness and social anxiety. Results indicated that the SA-AAQ is a reliable and valid measure of acceptance specific to social anxiety. The third study was an experimental manipulation that was designed to examine the relationships among acceptance of social anxiety symptoms, willingness and distress. It was hypothesized that individuals who are habitually higher in acceptance would experience reduced anxiety and increased willingness in response to a speech task than those who are low in acceptance. In addition, it was believed that inducing state acceptance using brief instructions would result in decreased distress and increased willingness as compared to suppression and control groups. The results demonstrated that trait acceptance of social anxiety symptoms was associated with lower levels of distress following the speech. It was also found that inducing state acceptance led to similar levels of distress as inducing suppression. Further research is warranted to further clarify this finding. In sum, these three studies combine to provide support that this instrument is a valid measure of the construct that it was designed to assess, namely acceptance specific to social anxiety. The SA-AAQ could be of benefit for assessing mechanisms of change within mindfulness-based treatment protocols for social anxiety, in addition to contributing to the mindfulness literature.

Convocation Year


Included in

Psychology Commons