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Social anxiety (SA) is a common and incapacitating disorder that has been associated with seriously impaired career, academic, and general social functioning. Regarding epidemiological data, SA has a lifetime prevalence of 12.1% and is the fourth most common psychopathological disorder (Kessler et al., 2005).

At a fundamental point of view, the most prominent cognitive models of SA posit that biased cognitions contribute to the development and maintenance of the disorder (e.g., Clark & Wells, 1995; Rapee & Heimberg, 1997). Over the last decades, a large body of research has provided evidence that individuals suffering from SA exhibit such biased cognitions at the level of visual attention, memory of social encounters, interpretation of social events, and in judgment of social cues.

Such biased cognitions in SA has been studied in different ways within cognitive psychology, behavioral psychology, clinical psychology, and cognitive neuroscience over the last few decades, yet, integrative approaches for channeling all information into a unified account of biased cognitions in SA has not been presented so far.


This Research Topic aims to bring together theses different ways, and to highlight findings and methods which can unify research across these areas. In particular, the topic aims to advance the current theoretical models of SA and set the stage for future developments of the field by clarifying and linking theoretical concepts across disciplines. 

Scope: The focus of this Research Topic is on the mechanisms underlying biased cognition in SA, and we anticipate that all submissions will touch on these aspects and will explicitly attempt to bridge conceptual gaps between the different areas. Submissions could include questions of how these different levels of biased cognitions are linked, or how they are moderated by specific brain process. Of course, they could also include considerations on the physical specificity of the stimuli on which these cognitive biases occurs (salience, spatial frequency). Questions could also relate to how individual differences (in personality, sex, development, culture, genotype, etc.) may influence such biased cognition.

Many different methods can be used to explore these issues, including, behavioral tasks, self-reports, EEG/MEG and fMRI, genetic, child development, neuromodulation, virtual reality and more. Bringing together results and approaches from these different domains is a key aim of this Research Topic. We welcome submissions of experimental papers, reviews and theory papers which cover these topics.

Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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