Friday, February 26, 2010

An Anxiety Study

I've been thinking about the impact of anxiety on our lives. Especially the kind of anxiety that circles around our relationships and attachments. I've been hatching a new theory about how our level of vulnerability to social anxiety (or lack of vulnerability) affects the way we approach relationships and operate within them.

Are you willing to help me test my theory?

First, some background. Let's talk about anxiety. By "anxiety" I mean physical symptoms of anxiety: pounding heart, tightness in your chest, cold sweat, nervousness, a feeling of dread, etc. These are measurable things. Objective and palpable.

Secondly, I'm targeting a specific source of anxiety, namely the kind of anxiety that is sparked by interactions with other people. For example, anxiety about a breakup or your friend getting pissed at you. There are other potent sources of anxiety of course, such as fear of physical violence or going to the dentist. These kinds of anxiety relate to physical pain. I want to steer clear of those in this study.

I've put together a survey to explore how much social anxiety you experience in your life. For each question, rank yourself on a scale of 1 to 10 on the strength of the anxiety you would feel in that particular situation (i.e., the intensity of the physical symptoms). 1 means you feel no anxiety at all. 5 is moderate, but bearable anxiety. 10 is severe and unbearable anxiety compelling you to take immediate action to stop it.

The Questions

How much anxiety do you feel when:

1. Watching movies full of tense drama, conflicts, and heartbreak.

2. In childhood, being yelled at.

3. In childhood, being separated from your parents.

4. When a person acts angry or sad in your presence, but not because of something you did.

5. When a person acts angry or sad in your presence because of something you did.

6. Witnessing strangers arguing/fighting.

7. Someone crying in front of you.

8. Public speaking/group attention.

9. Facing a deadline in work, school, or other commitment.

10. Sitting down to a written test in which your score will be known to others.

11. Getting the silent treatment.

12. Thinking that you might not be invited.

13. Thinking that you might be invited.

14. Being left alone.

15. Being the object of someone's interest.

16. Your partner acts like he/she is disappointed in you or unsatisfied with you.

17. Your partner is angry at you.

18. Revealing the person you are.

19. Failing to meet your parents' expectations.

20. Disagreeing with someone.

For each of these final questions, please indicate whether you either strongly disagree, somewhat disagree, somewhat agree, or strongly agree.

21. If there is a person I want to be with, I am quick to feel anxiety if I feel that the person is drifting away from me or is not liking me.

22. If I ever feel anxiety that the person I want to be with is drifting away from me or is not liking me, the solution is usually to get even closer to the person and let him/her know how I feel. My first thought is to try harder to succeed with that person.

23. If I ever feel anxiety that the person I want to be with is drifting away from me or is not liking me, the solution is usually to distance myself from the person and hide my feelings. My first thought is to protect myself from that person.

I'll let you know how my hypothesis works out. (Feel free to answer anonymously if you'd like.) Thanks for weighing in with your own experiences!!

(Click HERE for the results.)

17 comments:

Terri said...

I love your research quizzes. Interesting stuff! So here goes: me in my anxiety-ridden glory...

1) 8 - For horror movies, make it a 10; I avoid them completely. For high tension, I hide my eyes. Yes, I'm a wuss.

2) 9 - It explains my 'goody-two-shoes' reputation.

3) 5 - I preferred being home but didn't mind going with friends.

4) 2 - I do try to help or calm them down but it generally doesn't phase me too much.

5) 10 - I hate upsetting people.

6) 0 - I find it interesting to watch the interaction.

7) 3 - I sometimes feel sympathy or irritation, depending on the reason for the tears.

8) 10 - Actually this one needs more explanation. I get anxious before a presentation, for example, or if I suddenly find myself the centre of attention. Yet I love performing on stage, like when I used to dance. I used to be nervous before a performance but once on stage I revelled in it. So 10 and 0, depending on the situation, Dr Freud.

9) 7 - It's that darn fear of failure again.

10) 8 - Ditto

11) 4 - Not so much anxiety as obstinacy.

12) 3 - It used to worry me as a youngster but not anymore.

13) 3 - hehehe - Do I have something to wear??

14) 5 - um.

15) 1

16) 9 - Not so much the sweaty palms as the tight chest.

17) 3 - Anger is OK. I can get angry back.

18) 9 - what if they don't like me...? (Now you're getting personal, Mr Evans)

19) 2 - I'm lucky. My mom is proud of me anyway.

20) 7 - I think this is linked to self-confidence; the "what if I'm wrong?" question. Getting better bit by bit.

21) Strongly agree

22) strongly disagree

23) strongly agree

Have a great weekend! I'll be back to peek at all the other answers next week.

SzélsőFa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SzélsőFa said...

I had to revise my comment b/c I made some copy-paste mistakes. Also, I found that most of my answers scored between 4-6. I don't think that is helpful. So I returned to give more specific answers.
1. 4-9 (some cruel horror movies repel/disgust me. I usually don't watch them at all.)
2. 8
3. 2 (I was quite well on my own)
4. 2-5 (reasonless anger sometimes makes me feel useless. the 'I would like to help, but I can't.' kind of feeling.
5. 4
6. 4
7. 3
8. 7
9. 3
10. 4
11. uhm, I don't exactly know what this is. I have never heard this expression before. supposing it means that someone that is somehow important to you starts to neglect you, ignore you, as if you were not present, or alive, i'd say 6
if it means something else, ignore my vote for this particular question.
12. 2
13. 4
14. 1
15. 4
16. 5
17. 3
18. 1-5 depending on the peers.
19. 2 - I am sure my parents like me the way i am now. were they not, i am still the one i am.
20. 2-5 depending on the importantce of the project i wish to put through. like... having eggs for breakfast or not is not a real problem. well, most of the time :PP


21. somewhat agree
22. somewhat disagree
23. somewhat agree

the walking man said...

1. Watching movies full of tense drama, conflicts, and heartbreak.

1

2. In childhood, being yelled at.

2

3. In childhood, being separated from your parents.

1

4. When a person acts angry or sad in your presence, but not because of something you did.

1

5. When a person acts angry or sad in your presence because of something you did.

2

6. Witnessing strangers arguing/fighting.

1

7. Someone crying in front of you.

1

8. Public speaking/group attention.

1

9. Facing a deadline in work, school, or other commitment.

1

10. Sitting down to a written test in which your score will be known to others.

1

11. Getting the silent treatment.

1

12. Thinking that you might not be invited.

1

13. Thinking that you might be invited.

1

14. Being left alone.

1

15. Being the object of someone's interest.

1

16. Your partner acts like he/she is disappointed in you or unsatisfied with you.

2

17. Your partner is angry at you.

1

18. Revealing the person you are.

1

19. Failing to meet your parents' expectations.

1

20. Disagreeing with someone.

1

For each of these final questions, please indicate whether you either strongly disagree, somewhat disagree, somewhat agree, or strongly agree.

21. If there is a person I want to be with, I am quick to feel anxiety if I feel that the person is drifting away from me or is not liking me.

somewhat disagree

22. If I ever feel anxiety that the person I want to be with is drifting away from me or is not liking me, the solution is usually to get even closer to the person and let him/her know how I feel. My first thought is to try harder to succeed with that person.

Strongly disagree

23. If I ever feel anxiety that the person I want to be with is drifting away from me or is not liking me, the solution is usually to distance myself from the person and hide my feelings. My first thought is to protect myself from that person.

Strongly disagree


In the last to questions I feel that it is best to separate a bit, but not hide from the person you are separated from. Time tells the outcome of the revised relationship.

Four Dinners said...

1. Watching movies full of tense drama, conflicts, and heartbreak...4

2. In childhood, being yelled at...10

3. In childhood, being separated from your parents...1

4. When a person acts angry or sad in your presence, but not because of something you did...8

5. When a person acts angry or sad in your presence because of something you did...10

6. Witnessing strangers arguing/fighting...5

7. Someone crying in front of you...10

8. Public speaking/group attention...3

9. Facing a deadline in work, school, or other commitment...5

10. Sitting down to a written test in which your score will be known to others...8

11. Getting the silent treatment...7

12. Thinking that you might not be invited...2

13. Thinking that you might be invited...8

14. Being left alone...1

15. Being the object of someone's interest...8

16. Your partner acts like he/she is disappointed in you or unsatisfied with you...10

17. Your partner is angry at you...10

18. Revealing the person you are...1

19. Failing to meet your parents' expectations...1

20. Disagreeing with someone...5

21. If there is a person I want to be with, I am quick to feel anxiety if I feel that the person is drifting away from me or is not liking me...Strongly Agree

22. If I ever feel anxiety that the person I want to be with is drifting away from me or is not liking me, the solution is usually to get even closer to the person and let him/her know how I feel. My first thought is to try harder to succeed with that person...Strongly Disagree

23. If I ever feel anxiety that the person I want to be with is drifting away from me or is not liking me, the solution is usually to distance myself from the person and hide my feelings. My first thought is to protect myself from that person...Strongly Agree



Conclusion?

He's nuts...;-)

Shadow said...

1. 5
2. 9
3. 9
4. 8
5. 8
6. 8
7. 5
8. 10
9. 7
10. 7
11. 5
12. 3
13. 6
14. 8
15. 3
16. 7
17. 7
18. 6
19. 10
20. 8
21. strongly agree
22. strongly disagree
23. strongly agree

Margaret said...

Here you go Jason....


1. Watching movies full of tense drama, conflicts, and heartbreak.
(7)

2. In childhood, being yelled at.
(8)

3. In childhood, being separated from your parents. (6)

4. When a person acts angry or sad in your presence, but not because of something you did. (4)

5. When a person acts angry or sad in your presence because of something you did. (8)

6. Witnessing strangers arguing/fighting. (4)

7. Someone crying in front of you. (7)

8. Public speaking/group attention. (9)

9. Facing a deadline in work, school, or other commitment. (2)

10. Sitting down to a written test in which your score will be known to others. (4)

11. Getting the silent treatment.
(8)

12. Thinking that you might not be invited. (1)

13. Thinking that you might be invited. (1)

14. Being left alone. (1)

15. Being the object of someone's interest. (3)

16. Your partner acts like he/she is disappointed in you or unsatisfied with you. (4)

17. Your partner is angry at you.
(6)

18. Revealing the person you are.
(2)

19. Failing to meet your parents' expectations. (2)

20. Disagreeing with someone. (6)


21. If there is a person I want to be with, I am quick to feel anxiety if I feel that the person is drifting away from me or is not liking me.

(Strongly agree)

22. If I ever feel anxiety that the person I want to be with is drifting away from me or is not liking me, the solution is usually to get even closer to the person and let him/her know how I feel. My first thought is to try harder to succeed with that person.

(Strongly disagree)

23. If I ever feel anxiety that the person I want to be with is drifting away from me or is not liking me, the solution is usually to distance myself from the person and hide my feelings. My first thought is to protect myself from that person.

(Strongly agree)


Looking forward to the results, have a great weekend!

Kartik said...

1. 6
2. 9
3. 5
4. 6
5. 8
6. 2
7. 4
8. 6
9. 6
10. 4
11. 9
12. 9
13. 9
14. 10
15. 8
16. 9
17. 9
18. 9
19. 8
20. 2
21. Strongly Agree
22. Somewhat disagree
23. Strongly Agree

yeah I know.. I get anxious real easy .. am working on it :)

Mona said...

1. 1
2.3
3.10
4.5
5.7
6.4
7.6
8.2
9.1
10.2
11.9
12.1
13.1
14.1
15.1
16.8
17.6
18.3
19.1
20.1
21.somewhat disagree
22.strongly agree
23.Strongly disagree

JR said...

1 - 1
2 - 6
3 - 8
4 - 3
5 - 6
6 - 2
7 - 2
8 - 7
9 - 3
10 -3
11 -3
12 -1
13 -1
14 -1
15 -4
16 -7
17 -7
18 -2
19 -1
20 -1

21 SWA
22 SWD
23 SWA

Karen said...

1. Watching movies full of tense drama, conflicts, and heartbreak - 4

2. In childhood, being yelled at - 10

3. In childhood, being separated from your parents - 8

4. When a person acts angry or sad in your presence, but not because of something you did - 7

5. When a person acts angry or sad in your presence because of something you did - 10

6. Witnessing strangers arguing/fighting - 7

7. Someone crying in front of you - 7

8. Public speaking/group attention - 2

9. Facing a deadline in work, school, or other commitment - 1

10. Sitting down to a written test in which your score will be known to others - 1

11. Getting the silent treatment - 5

12. Thinking that you might not be invited - 2

13. Thinking that you might be invited - 1

14. Being left alone - 1

15. Being the object of someone's interest - 2

16. Your partner acts like he/she is disappointed in you or unsatisfied with you - 9

17. Your partner is angry at you - 7

18. Revealing the person you are - 5

19. Failing to meet your parents' expectations - 10

20. Disagreeing with someone - 3

21. If there is a person I want to be with, I am quick to feel anxiety if I feel that the person is drifting away from me or is not liking me - Agree

22. If I ever feel anxiety that the person I want to be with is drifting away from me or is not liking me, the solution is usually to get even closer to the person and let him/her know how I feel. My first thought is to try harder to succeed with that person - Disagree

23. If I ever feel anxiety that the person I want to be with is drifting away from me or is not liking me, the solution is usually to distance myself from the person and hide my feelings. My first thought is to protect myself from that person - Agree

I didn't go back to "check my answers," so I'll just let this say what it will!

Anonymous said...

1. 6
2. 7.5
3. 7
4. 2
5. 8
6. 8
7. 3
8. 1 - oddly enough, that's my job
9. 3
10. 3
11. 6.5
12. 6
13. 3
14. 2
15. 3
16. 8
17. 9
18. 10
19. 2 (though once a strong 9)
20. 7
21. strongly agree
22. strongly agree
23. somewhat disagree

Leah said...

I am so used to anxiety that I don't worry about it lol if that makes sense. I mean, I might experience plenty of anxiety in various situations but I generally don't let it rule my life or actions, even if it's extreme. For example, flying makes me very anxious, sometimes it's extreme and my hands get very sweaty etc, like with bad turbulence. But I do it anyway and deal with it because, at the same time, I enjoy flying. Sort of :) But it can also depend on what else is going on in my life, at the time.

Couple things that stress me out badly and give me palpitations aren't here: 1) fearing I absent-mindedly gave the wrong dose of medication to one of my dogs or cats (have had elderly/sick animals). I almost go blind with sudden panic sometimes until I reassure myself 2) fearing I blew up my blog lol 3) Fearing I had some gawdawful typo on said blog.

1. Watching movies full of tense drama, conflicts, and heartbreak. 6 I don't watch anything with violence on principle plus it does bother me.

2. In childhood, being yelled at. 3

3. In childhood, being separated from your parents. 1

4. When a person acts angry or sad in your presence, but not because of something you did. 2

5. When a person acts angry or sad in your presence because of something you did. Depends who it is and the likelihood of resolution. 2-6

6. Witnessing strangers arguing/fighting. Depends. I probably get out of there in case they have guns lol. 3

7. Someone crying in front of you. This would make me feel compassionate, caring. 1

8. Public speaking/group attention. I've gotten over it, for the most part. I almost had a stroke in my first speech class in college lol 2

9. Facing a deadline in work, school, or other commitment. It's usually a fun/positive kind of anxiety.3-4

10. Sitting down to a written test in which your score will be known to others. 1

11. Getting the silent treatment. I divorced him. Depends who it is, though. 6 or 7, I guess at least with my ex-husband. But I know what that's about now, and I just figure it's the other person's issue, and I'm not interested. So with that in mind, a 1.

12. Thinking that you might not be invited. 1

13. Thinking that you might be invited. 1

14. Being left alone.1

15. Being the object of someone's interest.1 Excitement maybe! lol Depends.

16. Your partner acts like he/she is disappointed in you or unsatisfied with you. I divorced him. 6-7

17. Your partner is angry at you. Better than silent treatment! That I can deal with. 2-5, depending.

18. Revealing the person you are. 1

19. Failing to meet your parents' expectations.1

20. Disagreeing with someone.1

For each of these final questions, please indicate whether you either strongly disagree, somewhat disagree, somewhat agree, or strongly agree.

21. If there is a person I want to be with, I am quick to feel anxiety if I feel that the person is drifting away from me or is not liking me. Probably a little, at least. Somewhat agree. But what can you do?

22. If I ever feel anxiety that the person I want to be with is drifting away from me or is not liking me, the solution is usually to get even closer to the person and let him/her know how I feel. My first thought is to try harder to succeed with that person. Strongly disagree. I typically ask questions, get stuff in the open as much as possible. I can't make people like me. So I won't try harder to succeed, whatever that means. But I would want to talk about it.

23. If I ever feel anxiety that the person I want to be with is drifting away from me or is not liking me, the solution is usually to distance myself from the person and hide my feelings. My first thought is to protect myself from that person. Strongly disagree. As above, I prefer to talk about stuff. What can you do? We can't get along with everyone.

loveable_homebody said...

Hi Jason,

I agree that the symptoms of anxiety do make it measurable. The symptoms also can trick you into thinking that you're anxious or if you describe the symptoms to your doctor, your doctor might write you off as having anxiety.

I am on a couple of heart medications my cardiologist put me on after he diagnosed me with an arrhythmia. He took my heart seriously when my heart beat rapidly pretty much all of the time, but since the medications eased the arrhythmia to intermittent episodes, he writes them off as being anxiety. They totally aren't! This is a perfect example of a doctor paying more attention to the symptoms than to a patient's narrative.

Corra McFeydon said...

I love a survey!

1) 1 (It's fiction?)

2) 10

3) 10

4) 7

5) 10

6) 2

7) 3 (It doesn't cause anxiety. I feel empathetic for them. That's not anxiety.)

8) 7

9) 9

10) 1

11) 4 -- anxiety coupled with anger. i find the silent treatment petty.

12) 5

13) 7

14) Forever - 10; temporarily - 1

15) 10

16) 10

17) 10

18) 1

19) 3

20) 2

21) strongly agree

22) strongly agree (if I know the person well?)

23) strongly disagree (unless this person is someone I don't consider a friend)







from the desk of a writer (I moved my blog! I'm at Wordpress now.)

Charmaine said...

Ah crap. Let's just say I'm up to my gills in anxiety.

It's my birthday today. (I'm freaking OLD.)

My boyfriend (if 58 can be considered a boy) just disappeared, literally.

I just started a new job.

But alas, I have the antidote to stress. Drumroll puleez. Paddle Boarding. I just did it. You stand on an oversized surfboard with a really LONG paddle and cruise around the harbor trying not to fall off.

When you do this, you cannot POSSIBLY think about anything except staying out of the water.

If you go to my blog you can see a picture of what paddle boarding looks like.

jason evans said...

Terri, Szelsofa, Walking Man, Four Dinners, Shadow, Margaret, Kartik, Mona, JR, Karen, Anonymous, Leah, Loveable Homebody, Cora, Charmaine,

Thank you all very much for participating and offering thoughts!! I'll be taking a look at the data and posting more on Wednesday.