Inhibited and impulsive subgroups of socially anxious young adults: Their depressive symptoms and life satisfaction


Purpose: Socially anxious people are typically thought of as being behaviorally inhibited; however, an atypical subgroup, which is impulsive rather than inhibited, has recently been identified [1]. Theoretically, inhibition and impulsivity could be viewed as different strategies for coping with anxiety that have the same goal—escape from negative emotions—but they seem to have different implications. Previous studies have found that the socially anxious-impulsive subgroup was higher on risk-prone behavior, as for example drug use, compared with a socially anxious-inhibited subgroup [1]. In this study, we aimed to identify these subgroups in a general population, and asked whether they also experience various levels of depressive symptoms and life satisfaction, as well as moderating effects of gender. Methods: Cluster analysis was used to identify subgroups of young adults (20 - 24 years old; N = 772) characterized by different profiles of social anxiety and impulsivity. These subgroups were compared on levels of internal adjustment, and the moderating effects of gender were also tested. Results: We identified five clusters, including an Anxious-Inhibited and an Anxious-Impulsive cluster. In the interaction between gender and cluster membership, gender showed evidence of moderation regarding both depressive symptoms and life satisfaction, with the young women in the Anxious-Inhibited and the Anxious-Impulsive clusters faring worst. Conclusions: We replicated previous findings demonstrating the existence of a socially anxious-impulsive subgroup, thus solidifying current knowledge that may be important when it comes to diagnostics and treatment. This may prove particularly important for young women regarding internalizing symptoms.

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Tillfors, M. , Mörtberg, E. , Zalk, N. and Kerr, M. (2013) Inhibited and impulsive subgroups of socially anxious young adults: Their depressive symptoms and life satisfaction. Open Journal of Psychiatry, 3, 195-201. doi: 10.4236/ojpsych.2013.31A016.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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