The exact causes of social phobia are not known. However, several things are believed to contribute to the problem:
- Genetics. People with social phobia often have relatives who are shy or have social phobia.
- Prior experiences. Many people with social phobia remember having been embarrassed or humiliated in the past. This leads them to be afraid that the same thing will happen again. Soon they start avoiding social situations. Over time, this tends to make them feel even more afraid.
- Negative thinking. People with social phobia often have negative automatic thoughts about what will happen in social situations. Common thoughts are “I won’t be able to think of anything to say,” “1’11 make a fool of myself,” and “People will see I’m anxious.” They also tend to have standards that are hard to meet, such as “I should never be anxious,” “you have to be beautiful and smart to be liked,” or “I have to get everyone’s approval.” Often they have negative beliefs about themselves, such as “I’m boring,” “I’m weird,” or “I’m different from other people” Lack of social skills. Some people with social phobia never had the chance to learn social skills. This can cause them to have problems in social situations. Other people with this disorder have good social skills, but they get so anxious that they have a hard time using them.