Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Educational Measurement and Research

Major Professor

Anthony J. Onwuegbuzie, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Robert F. Dedrick, Ph.D.

Committee Member

John M. Ferron, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jack Darkes, Ph.D.


Social anxiety, Social phobia, BFNE-S, Confirmatory factor analysis, Qualitative analysis


This mixed methods case study examined the effect of reduced fear of negative evaluation and self focus on behaviors related to shyness in a church environment. A sample of 239 members, regular attenders, and visitors completed a survey, consisting of the Brief Fear of Negative Evaluation-Straightforward (BFNE-S) Scale; two checklists measuring perceived acceptance and levels of comfort in situations known to be difficult for shy people; and extended response questions regarding thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in six church situations.

Confirmatory factor analysis revealed the BFNE-S (General and Context-specific) had acceptable fit compared with previous studies, and descriptive statistics were similar to those of previous studies. Lower self-reported levels of fear of negative evaluation and higher levels of perceived comfort, but not acceptance, in the church setting were found to be statistically significant, although the effect size was negligible. A repeated measures ANOVA revealed no statistically significant difference for gender or race for individuals in the church setting compared to the non church setting. A multiple regression failed to reveal a statistically significant relationship between depth and breadth of involvement in church activities and reduced fear of negative evaluation.

The Clark-Wells (1995) model of social phobia explained 62% of self-reported behaviors, thoughts, and feelings of individuals with high levels of shyness when in social situations in the church setting. A statistically significant difference was found between focus of attention and quality of thought scores for individuals with minimal to low levels of shyness and high levels of shyness.

To explore further the validity of scores obtained with the BFNE-S, it would be useful to conduct a study in different environments and seek to understand individuals in those environments with high and low fear of negative evaluation. Future research regarding the church setting should utilize a sample with fewer long-term members and regular attenders. Additionally, future studies could probe how religious beliefs help people cope with difficult situations, in particular shyness.