Background: Few studies have focused on the contextual influences that impact negative affect (NA) and risk for mood disorders in young adults. Research using ecological momentary assessment (EMA) methods has shown that neurotypical adults with elevated social anxiety may be more sensitive to their social environment. To date, little is known about how types of social interactions impact autistic adults, who may show varying levels of social anxiety and social motivation. Aim: Our goal was to examine the heterogeneity in daily social experiences for autistic and socially anxious adults. Method: Using EMA surveys, we tracked daily self-reported face-to-face interactions and examined how these interactions influenced daily affect. We likewise examined how social anxiety (using the Liebowitz Social Anxiety Scale) and autism traits (using the Autism Spectrum Quotient) influenced day-to-day social experiences while controlling for potential covariates (age and biological sex). Participants consisted of 88 young adults who participated in a mental health longitudinal study. We used a multilevel model approach (MLM) to examine predictors of NA. Results: MLM analysis showed that a model with face-to-face interactions and social anxiety predictors best explained outcomes in NA. AQ scores, age, and sex covariates did not improve model fit. Social anxiety was a significant negative predictor of NA after controlling for face-to-face interaction. Conclusion: These findings highlight that autism traits do not predict NA after controlling for social anxiety, and that social anxiety interventions may improve overall moods by addressing types of interactions.
College and Department
Family, Home, and Social Sciences; Psychology
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Limon, Danica L., "Daily Survey of Negative Affect and Social Interactions in Young Adults with High Levels of Social Stress" (2022). Theses and Dissertations. 9670.
Ecological Momentary Assessment, EMA, autism, social anxiety, negative affect