The following is the summary of “Personality subtypes in adults with social anxiety disorder – novelty seeking makes the difference” published in the December 2022 issue of Psychiatry by Chung, et al.

Many distinct forms of a social anxiety disorder (SAD) have been proposed. Researchers  employed a cluster analytic technique to identify qualitatively distinct subgroups of SAD based on temperament characteristics, specifically the harm avoidance (HA) and novelty seeking (NS) aspects of Cloninger’s Temperament and Character Inventory.

Evidence for 2 separate subgroups of SAD was found in a large, heterogeneous clinical sample (n=575), with the larger group being prototypic (59%), inhibited, and characterized by high HA and low NS, and the smaller group being atypic, relatively more impulsive, and characterized by medium to high HA and increased NS. Several demographic and health-related factors separated the groups into distinct categories. Although the prototypical SAD subtype experienced more severe SAD and depressed symptoms, suicidal thoughts, and impaired social functioning, the atypic NS subtype displayed more procreative behavior, self-directedness, and transcendence. Age and level of education are highlighted further by hierarchical logistic regression.

Their findings provide important new support for the hypothesis that there are at least two unique forms of SAD. Furthermore, understanding the prototypical differences in behavior, personality, coping methods, and comorbidities between the established (and more) subtypes might aid in creating successful preventative interventions and support the conceptualization of personalized therapies.