When Adaptations Go Awry

Functional and Dysfunctional Aspects of Social Anxiety

Jon K. Maner, Douglas Kenrick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

16 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Adaptations are psychological and behavioral mechanisms designed through evolution to serve specific purposes ultimately related to reproductive success. Although adaptations are inherently functional, in some cases their operation can nevertheless cause personal and social dysfunction. We describe a theoretical framework for understanding, predicting, and reducing the dysfunctional consequences of psychological adaptations. We discuss three general sources of dysfunction: (a) the existence of adaptive trade-offs, (b) mismatches between current environments and ancestral environments, and (c) individual differences. The article applies this framework primarily to the topic of social anxiety, a psychological phenomenon marked by concerns pertaining to social rejection and embarrassment. Although social anxiety can serve useful functions, it can also involve excessive worry, negative effect, and avoidance of social situations, leading to significant distress and social impairment. We consider sources of dysfunction in social anxiety and discuss implications for policy, including recommendations for psychological, situational, and biological interventions. We also discuss broader applications of this theoretical framework to other areas of social life.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)111-142
Number of pages32
JournalSocial Issues and Policy Review
Volume4
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2010

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Anxiety
Psychological Adaptation
anxiety
Psychology
Social Distance
social situation
mismatch
Individuality
cause

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Psychology
  • Applied Psychology

Cite this

When Adaptations Go Awry : Functional and Dysfunctional Aspects of Social Anxiety. / Maner, Jon K.; Kenrick, Douglas.

In: Social Issues and Policy Review, Vol. 4, No. 1, 2010, p. 111-142.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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