Date of Award

Fall 12-18-2019

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department


Degree Name

Master of Arts (AM/MA)

Degree Type



Fear of positive evaluation (FPE) is a construct related to social anxiety that involves discomfort when receiving positive attention and feedback from others. FPE research has increased over the past decade, and results suggest that it may be an important part of social anxiety for some individuals; however, it is not yet known whether FPE may also include discomfort from being included in social situations. Level of inclusion was hypothesized to moderate the relationship between FPE and negative affect from being over included such that those with high FPE would feel more uncomfortable the more they were included. To test this hypothesis, the present study utilized Cyberball, a virtual ball-tossing game involving one human player and two computerized players. Participants were randomized to one of three conditions varying in the amount of ball tosses they received: (1) equal inclusion, (2) over inclusion, and (3) strong over inclusion. Participants played two trials of Cyberball; all participants played the equal inclusion condition during Trial 1 and the randomized experimental condition during Trial 2. A measure of FPE was collected before the first trial of Cyberball, and measures of negative affect were collected at pre-Cyberball, post-Trial 1, and post-Trial 2. As expected, a check of the study manipulation suggested a significant difference in reported feelings of inclusion between study conditions. A multiple linear regression examined the relationship between FPE, study condition (i.e., level of inclusion), and the interaction of FPE and study condition on change in negative affect from post-Trial 1 to post-Trial 2. Results of the regression indicated no significant effect for the interaction between FPE and study condition. A number of post hoc exploratory analyses were conducted to investigate possible explanations for the non-significant interaction. Results from these analyses did not suggest alternative explanations, suggesting that the relationship between FPE and level of inclusion does not predict negative affect during inclusion in Cyberball. Theories of FPE are discussed in relation to study outcomes and features of Cyberball.


English (en)

Chair and Committee

Thomas Rodebaugh

Committee Members

Renee Thompson, Thomas Oltmanns


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