Background: Social anxiety is assumed to be related to cultural norms across countries. Heinrichs et al. [2006: Behav Res Ther 44:1187-1197] compared individualistic and collectivistic countries and found higher social anxiety and more positive attitudes toward socially avoidant behaviors in collectivistic rather than in individualistic countries. However, the authors failed to include Latin American countries in the collectivistic group. Methods: To provide support for these earlier results within an extended sample of collectivistic countries, 478 undergraduate students from individualistic countries were compared with 388 undergraduate students from collectivistic countries (including East Asian and Latin American) via self-report of social anxiety and social vignettes assessing social norms. Results: As expected, the results of Heinrichs et al. [2006: Behav Res Ther 44:1187-1197] were replicated for the individualistic and Asian countries, but not for Latin American countries. Latin American countries displayed the lowest social anxiety levels, whereas the collectivistic East Asian group displayed the highest. Conclusions: These findings indicate that while culture-mediated social norms affect social anxiety and might help to shed light on the etiology of social anxiety disorder, the dimension of individualism-collectivism may not fully capture the relevant norms.
- social anxiety disorder
- social phobia