Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format

Integrated Article


Master of Science




Finegan, Joan


For individuals who experience social anxiety, the workplace presents unique obstacles as they fear the social interactions. In particular, these individuals may struggle with workplace incivility. This study used questionnaires and vignettes to determine if the severity of social anxiety is related to heightened reports of social anxiety in their own workplace as well as increased negative valance associated with incivility events. In addition, the influence of various forms of self-efficacy and social support at work was measured. It was found that social anxiety increased reports of incivility at work. Self-efficacy had a nonsignificant influence and social support at work had the opposite impact than expected, leading to more increased reporting of incivility when feeling supported. The findings relating to emotional reactions were contrary to expectations, with social anxiety increasing positive reactions to incivility. Social support at work had a nonsignificant impact on this relationship while self-efficacy improved reactions further. Though there were contradictions between this finding and past research, this study supports the idea that social anxiety influences perceptions of incivility at work in some way. It appears that severity of social anxiety leads to increased experiences of incivility from workplace interactions, which could lead to a variety of job-related and personal issues.

Summary for Lay Audience

Social anxiety is one of the most common mental health issues in North America, with large percentages of the population being clinically diagnosed or dealing with symptoms. Unique challenges exist for individuals with social anxiety at work with up to 75% of employees with social anxiety feeling impaired at work. Due to this, it is essential to improve our understanding of the relationships social anxiety has with various work factors. We investigated how social anxiety influences the perceived frequency of workplace incivility and emotional reactions to these events. Incivility is a specific form of workplace mistreatment that is less severe and typically has unclear intentionality. Virtually all employees have dealt with incivility at some point in their career and many experience it daily. Incivility negatively influences the workplace and the people within it. In this study, I also considered how social support at work and self-efficacy could influence the results.

To investigate the relationship between social anxiety and perceptions of workplace incivility, participants completed questionnaires and watched workplace social interactions through a variety of videos showcasing positive, negative, and uncivil workplace interactions. The participants were asked to place themselves in the situation and rate how it made them feel. To determine how frequently incivility was experienced, participants were asked to reflect on their own work throughout the past year and discuss how often they experienced specific examples of incivility.

As expected, severity of social anxiety led to increased reports of incivility in their own workplace. Though their self-efficacy had no influence on this relationship, increased social support was related to more frequently experiencing incivility. Assessing the emotions elicited by the social events caused me to conclude that the participants reported more positive emotions when they were more socially anxious. Self-efficacy increased this positive reaction, though social support had no impact. This finding was contrary to expectations based on previous research and further replications are necessary. Through this research, we have identified that individuals with social anxiety may face increased mistreatment at work through this incivility.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.