People with social phobia fear and avoid engaging others in social interaction. Their social phobia is based on an expectation that they will be evaluated negatively and rejected socially. Social phobia, or social anxiety disorder, is one of the most common mental-health problems and people with social phobia suffer from interpersonal problems and a lower quality of life. One of the problems people with social phobia have is that while they may be as good at getting on with other people as everybody else they tend to interpret other people's reactions in a more negative fashion. Researchers at the University of Manitoba, in Canada, showed 40 people (12 of whom had social phobia) a series of 24 faces on a computer. Some faces were happy, while others showed disgust and anger. The participants were asked to rate the approachability of each of the faces. All the participants rated the disgusted and angry faces as less approachable but the participants with social phobia rated the happy faces as less approachable than the other participants did. Within the group of people with social phobia the less approachable they thought the happy faces were the more severe their symptoms were.
Campbell, D.W. ... [et al] - Happy but not so approachable: the social judgments of individuals with generalized social phobia Depression and Anxiety May 2009, 26(5), 419-424