Kashdan, T. B., Adams, L., Savostyanova, A., Ferssizidis, P., McKnight, P. E., & Nezlek, J. B. (in press). Effects of social anxiety and depressive symptoms on the frequency and quality of sexual activity: A daily process approach. Behavior Research and Therapy.
Diminished positive experiences and events might be part of the phenomenology of social anxiety; however, much of this research is cross-sectional by design, limiting our understanding of the everyday lives of socially anxious people. Sexuality is a primary source of positive experiences. We theorized that people with elevated social anxiety would have relatively less satisfying sexual experiences compared to those who were not anxious. For 21 days, 150 college students described their daily sexual episodes. Social anxiety was negatively related to the pleasure and feelings of connectedness experienced when sexually intimate. The relationship between social anxiety and the amount of sexual contact differed between men and women- it was negative for women and negligible for men. Being in a close, intimate relationship enhanced the feelings of connectedness during sexual episodes for only individuals low in social anxiety. Depressive symptoms were negatively related to the amount of sexual contact, and the pleasure and feelings of connectedness experienced when sexually intimate. Controlling for depressive symptoms did not meaningfully change the social anxiety effects on daily sexuality. Our findings suggest that fulfilling sexual activity is often compromised by social anxiety.