Circumventing anxiety during interpersonal encounters to promote interest in contact: An implementation intention approach

Chadly Stern, Tessa V. West

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Interactions with new acquaintances are often filled with anxiety that can reduce the desire for long-term contact. The present research tested whether providing participants with implementation intentions ("if-then" plans) that specify how to act when feeling anxious boosted interest in sustained contact and close interpersonal distance. Implementation intentions led to increased interest in sustained contact during anxiety-provoking interactions in the laboratory (Study 1) and daily interracial interactions (Study 2). They also led to closer interpersonal distance in anticipation of interracial interactions (Study 3). Implementation intentions were more effective than forming goal-directed responses (Studies 1, 2, & 3), or not forming a self-regulation strategy (Studies 2 & 3), and were effective over multiple interactions and across time, despite being learned only once (Study 2). Participants across conditions reported similar levels of anxiety, suggesting that promoting an interest in sustained contact can be accomplished without reducing anxiety, but rather, by shielding individuals from the negative effects of anxiety during social interactions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)82-93
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Volume50
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2014

Keywords

  • Implementation intentions
  • Intergroup relations
  • Interpersonal contact
  • Social anxiety

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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