Patterns of social anxiety in Chinese and European Canadian populations

Many people experience the social anxiety of being uncomfortable in certain social situations. But social anxiety can develop into social phobia, a clinical condition characterized by excessive fear related to attention and scrutiny by others that can significantly impair quality of life. Surveys in Asia have shown Asians experience considerably less social phobia than Western populations. But North American studies show Asians report higher levels of social anxiety than Caucasians. Lorena Hsu is examining two possible explanations for this discrepancy: Asians are less impaired by social anxiety and therefore less likely to develop social phobia, or Asians are less likely to openly admit to symptoms of social phobia. Using data collected from questionnaires and interviews of Chinese and European Canadians, Lorena will determine which explanation provides a better account of the discrepancy. This study could help explain how people in different cultures experience and express social anxiety, and contribute to development of culturally appropriate mental health services.