Social inhibition and approach-avoidance tendencies towards facial expressions

S.N.C. Duijndam*, N. Kupper, J. Denollet, A. Karreman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
193 Downloads (Pure)


This study examined how different manifestations of social inhibition (behavioral inhibition, interpersonal sensitivity, and social withdrawal) are related to automatic approach/avoidance behaviors in a social context. A sample of 115 undergraduate students and 20 adults from the general population (Mage = 24.8, SD = 11.4; 75% women) were assessed with the 15-item Social Inhibition Questionnaire (SIQ15). During a facial expression version of the Approach-Avoidance Task (AAT), participants reacted to images of emotional facial expressions (angry, happy, and neutral) or to control images (neutral objects) in portrait or landscape formats by pulling a joystick towards themselves (approach) or pushing it away from themselves (avoidance). The superordinate social inhibition construct was not associated with approach/avoidance tendencies. However, individuals high in the interpersonal sensitivity domain of social inhibition showed stronger approach tendencies for happy and neutral facial expressions compared to neutral objects, which may relate to their focus on seeking the approval of others.
Original languageEnglish
Article number103141
Number of pages6
JournalActa Psychologica
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Approach Avoidance Task
  • FEAR
  • Facial expressions
  • Interpersonal sensitivity
  • Social inhibition


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