Addressing revisions to the Brief Fear of Negative Evaluation scale: measuring fear of negative evaluation across anxiety and mood disorders

R Nicholas Carleton, Kelsey C Collimore, Randi E McCabe, Martin M Antony
Journal of Anxiety Disorders 2011, 25 (6): 822-8
The fear of negative evaluation (FNE) represents a fundamental component of social anxiety and social anxiety disorder (SAD) within modern cognitive-behavioral models (Clark & Wells, 1995; Rapee & Heimberg, 1997). As such, access to comprehensive psychometrics for measures of FNE is an important component of thorough clinical and research efforts. Among the most popular measures of FNE have been variations of the 12-item Brief Fear of Negative Evaluation (BFNE) scale (Leary, 1983). There are currently three versions of the BFNE based on two psychometric studies (i.e., two 8-item variants and a 12-item variant). There is still substantial debate regarding which of the three alternatives should be used by researchers and clinicians. Normative data for each of the three alternatives are not available across samples of individuals with diagnosed anxiety and mood disorders; moreover, there has been no comparative assessment of responses for such samples. The present investigation was to provide more definitive recommendations about the three alternatives, to provide normative clinical data, and to explore differences in FNE endorsement across anxiety and mood disorders. Clinical participants included 381 individuals (60% women; age M=35.61, SD=12.49) from an established anxiety treatment and research center. Diagnoses included those with a principal diagnosis of SAD (32%), those with a diagnosis of SAD as an additional disorder (24%), those without a diagnosis of SAD (41%), and those with features of SAD (3%). Results of descriptive analyses, factor analyses, analysis of variance, and receiver operating curves demonstrated that the 12-item variant of the BFNE was inferior or comparable to the two 8-item variants. FNE scores were consistently higher among all participants with a diagnosis of SAD (either principal or additional) relative to all other diagnostic groups (p<.05). Accordingly, the current evidence, as well as parsimony and previous research, supports the utility of the 8-item variant that includes only the original straightforwardly worded items from the BFNE. Comprehensive findings, implications, and future research directions are discussed.

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