Byline: Bisma Ejaz and Amina Muazzam
Keywords: Social anxiety, Self-consciousness, University students.
Social anxiety(SoA) has been observed to be increasing across the world, becoming one of the most common psychiatric disorders.1 More and more people have been reporting to have suffered the conditions associated with SoA disorder(SAD). The fear experienced by socially anxious people can intensify depression, stress, inferiority, incompetence and self-consciousness(SC) in them. These unhealthy sentiments might lead to deficiency in individuals along with social functionality.2
Research demonstrated that SoA significantly affected young adults, especially university students, due to which they were either unable to complete their education3 or were at high risk of failing crucial examinations.4 A significant proportion of university students reported having experienced compromised functionality because of high SoA despite being part of one of the best educational systems in the world.5
SoA is characterised by the apprehension of being adversely assessed by other persons in a social gathering.6 The resultant stress for the sufferer of SoA is usually overwhelming. Moreover, self-consciousness has been significantly reported by socially anxious university students. Despite being interrelated concepts, SoA and SC among university students have not been thoroughly explored. Keeping in view the extent of spread and damaging potential of SAD and increased SC, both need to be managed proactively and progressively.7
SC has been described as an intensified perception of selfawareness.8 Many persons are habitual of being more self-conscious compared to others. Repulsive feelings, for instance, paranoia and excessive shyness are usually associated with SC. Being highly self-conscious makes people overly attentive to the most trivial of their actions, inhibiting their capability to carry out routine tasks.9
Studies identified that unpleasant feelings of embarrassment, guilt and shame are usually connected with SC, which, in turn, reduces level of self-esteem and pride.10 A self-conscious person, many a time, before interacting people in social settings, may be over-critical about how she or he is looking or how others will perceive his presentation and image. Though often being selfconscious is polite and civilised, excessive SC can lead to mental health issues in university students and may result as a restraining factor, rendering the sufferer dysfunctional.11
SC has often been classified into two types: private selfconsciousness(PrSC), involving introspection or self-examination of one's own feelings and thoughts, and public self-consciousness(PuSC), marked by overemphasis on public image of self. Severe PuSC can culminate in persistent self-monitoring and even SoA.12 Researchers have found a notable association between SoA and other problems related to the social context with PuSC in student population.13 Sufferers have even been found to face sleep disturbances, leading to poor quality of life(QOL) and deteriorated social functioning.14 It is quite critical to establish which of the two types of SC the victim of SAD is experiencing.15
Expressive behaviour of the students has been found to differ largely depending upon varying degree of SC. Selfconscious pupils may feel comfortable when they believe they are not being the centre of attention; for example, in a crowded place, among many strangers at a train...