Doctorate in Clinical Psychology: Main Research Portfolio
: 1) Effectiveness of training aimed at improving health and social care professionals' attitudes towards people with a diagnosis of personality disorder: a systematic review; 2) Non-violent resistance training for parents of adolescents misusing substances: a mixed-methodology service improvement evaluation; 3) Investigating the relationship between social anxiety and mental imagery in autistic adults.

  • Juliette Attwood

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Clinical Psychology (DClinPsy)


A cognitive-behavioural model of social anxiety proposes that negative observerperspective mental images in social situations are important maintenance factors. This study investigated whether Highly Socially Anxious (HSA) autistic people would report experiencing mental imagery in social situations more frequently, from an observerperspective, and as more distressing in comparison to Low Socially Anxious (LSA) peers. 324 autistic adults took part in an online survey, completing standardised measures of anxiety, social anxiety, imagery, and a demographic questionnaire. 31 participants scoring above a specified cut-off on a measure of social anxiety (HSA group) and 31 participants scoring below (LSA group) participated in a telephone interview about mental imagery in social situations. Most HSA and LSA participants reported experiencing mental imagery in social situations, however, the HSA participants reported experiencing it more frequently. HSA participants were also more likely to report experiencing an image of a social situation from an observer-perspective. Observer-perspective imagery of a social situation and feeling an urge to escape or avoid such imagery also added additional variance to social anxiety scores when other potential predictors were controlled for. The findings suggest that imagery work may be helpful in the cognitive-behavioural treatment of social anxiety in autistic people.
Date of Award17 Sept 2018
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorMegan Wilkinson-Tough (Supervisor), Sinead Lambe (Supervisor), Catherine Butler (Supervisor), Libby Rogers (Supervisor) & Ailsa Russell (Supervisor)

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