Social Anxiety as a Moderator in the Relationship between Social Emotional Fluency and Eye Gaze
Emotional intelligence and interpersonal sensitivity have been identified as key individual-difference abilities that are important for optimal social functioning. Social emotional fluency (SEF) is proposed as a behavioral component of these two constructs. SEF is focused on qualitative aspects and temporal dynamics of nonverbal social behavior. Social anxiety has been studied as affecting the production of many of these nonverbal behaviors, most notably eye gaze. It was predicted that social anxiety would moderate the effect of SEF on eye gaze behavior. Twenty-four dyads participated in a trip-planning paradigm designed to elicit a moderate amount of social anxiety. It was predicted that individuals with high SEF/low social anxiety would display the highest amounts of eye contact and that those with low SEF/high social anxiety would display the least. Limited support was found for social anxiety as a moderator of SEF on eye gaze behavior. Future research should investigate finding more support for social anxiety as a moderator of SEF on eye gaze behavior, as well as investigating whether the moderating effects extend to the production of other nonverbal behaviors.