Does alcohol reduce social anxiety in daily life? A 22-day experience sampling study

To explain the co-occurrence of social anxiety and alcohol use problems, researchers have used experimental methods to test whether alcohol reduces state social anxiety (SSA) in the lab. The present study used experience sampling to extend research into real world settings. Students (N = 132; 100 women; 32 men;
aged 17 to 32 years) reported their SSA and alcohol intake 6 times from 4:00 pm to 4:00 am every day for 22 days. Multilevel modeling suggested for each
alcoholic drink consumed, SSA decreased by 4.0% two hours later. Those with greater levels of trait social anxiety (TSA) experienced higher SSA than those with lower levels of TSA. Findings support predictions made by tension reduction theory—that alcohol reduces SSA in daily life. These results extend many lab-based findings to the real world and provide further evidence that alcohol may provide negative reinforcement for those who are experiencing social anxiety.