Influence of Fear of Negative Evaluation and Gender on Dating Anxiety Among Adolescents

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CHAPTER ONE

1.1 Background of the Study
The concept of dating anxiety evolved from the concept of social anxiety. The American Psychiatric Association defines social anxiety as the fear of negative evaluations by others in social situations (American Psychiatric Association, 2000). One major characteristic of social anxiety is the fear of negative evaluation; fearing that others will judge you in a negative light (Leitenberg, 1990). Social anxiety causes one to perceive that others will think that they are inadequate and will reject him/her and this leads to feelings of apprehension, self-consciousness, and emotional distress (Leitenberg, 1990). To some degree, every individual experiences some form of social anxiety, for the fear of being judged in a negative light is common place- from public speaking or tripping as one walks down a crowded street. Social anxiety is correlated to a number of negative behaviours, which includes but is not limited to alcoholism (Beidel, 1995). During the 1970’s, researchers began to investigate the social anxiety one experiences in the dating context, however researcher’s interest on this topic declined in the 1990’s (Nangle & Hansen, 1998). There is controversy on whether dating anxiety is a form of social anxiety or if it should be accepted as its own entity (Glickman & La Greca 2004). However, there are psychologists who support the notion that dating anxiety is a concept related to and yet distinct from social anxiety (Chorney & Morris, 2008; Calvert, Moore, & Jensen, 1987; Glickman & La Greca, 2004; Heimberg, 1977, Hope & Heimberg 1990). Researchers who investigate dating anxiety have come to a vague consensus of the definition of dating anxiety. Hope & Heimberg (1990) define dating anxiety as apprehension and discomfort in interactions with a potential romantic partner (Hope & Heimberg, 1990). Glickman & La Greca (2004) define dating anxiety as the distress that occurs when one engages in interactions with potential dating partners or the opposite sex. The ambiguity of what constitutes a date hinders the specificity of the definition of dating anxiety. Pirog-Good & Stets (1989) define dating as “a dyadic interaction that focuses on participation in mutually rewarding activities that may increase the likelihood of future interaction, emotional commitment, and/or sexual intimacy” (Pirog-Good & Stets, 1989). In the past, it was expected that only men could initiate dates with women, positioning women in a passive and subservient dating role. But as time progresses it is increasingly more acceptable for women play an active role in the dating arena by initiating dates with men. Technological advances have increased one’s ability to meet and socialize with others while simultaneously eliminating the need to be within close proximity to one’s dating partner. Technologies’ role in dating anxiety is not limited to the younger generations, for researchers have discovered that older adults utilized online social networks to meet potential dating partners (Alterovitz & Mendelsohn, 2009). With the change in gender roles and the advancement of technology, a formal definition of dating becomes less distinct and continues to evolve from one generation to the next. Avoiding the onset of dating anxiety or learning to cope with dating anxiety is important because dating anxiety can hinder the development of interpersonal skills essential to the growth of healthy relationships and a positive self-concept. Benefits of forming other-sex relationships include developing skills in intimacy, friendship, sexual intercourse exploration, gaining autonomy from family, and participating in courtship and mate selection (Furman and Wehner, 1997; Hansen, 1992). Apprehension about dating carries negative developmental consequences such as increasing one’s risk of experiencing sexual dysfunction and apprehension of future sexual intercourse (Barlow, 1986;...
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