Mind & Body

The SPIN (Social Phobia Inventory) Can Tell You How Much Social Anxiety You Have Compared to Others

Chances are you've sat in the corner at a party, away from all the action, just fantasizing about being at home on the couch alone with a pint of ice cream. Feeling shy and a little antisocial at times is incredibly common. But that feeling of discomfort in social settings can cross the line from shyness into something more serious. Is social anxiety affecting you more than you realize? A short questionnaire may begin to clear that up.

You SPIN Me Right Round

Social anxiety is the nervousness or fear of embarrassment in social or public situations. Surely, you know the feeling. But according to a 2007 study, 36 percent of self-reported shy people questioned did not consider their shyness to be a major problem. In fact, a little nervousness can help you get stuff done. Feeling uncomfortable in social settings is problematic, however, when it becomes detrimental to a person's life. This is known as social anxiety disorder or social phobia.

In 2000, the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences of Duke University developed a questionnaire for screening and measuring the severity of social anxiety disorder. They called it the SPIN (Social Phobia Inventory) and designed it so that it only takes a minute or two to complete. The questionnaire has 17 items that you rate on a five-point scale: not at all, a little bit, somewhat, very much, or extremely. You can take the questionnaire yourself and get your score by clicking here, but take your results with a grain of salt: You won't be able to definitively diagnose yourself with social anxiety disorder by taking this test. Take a peek at the 17 items on the questionnaire:

1. I am afraid of people in authority.

2. I am bothered by blushing in front of people.

3. Parties and social events scare me.

4. I avoid talking to people I don't know.

5. Being criticized scares me a lot.

6. I avoid doing things or speaking to people for fear of embarrassment.

7. Sweating in front of people causes me distress.

8. I avoid going to parties.

9. I avoid activities in which I am the center of attention.

10. Talking to strangers scares me.

11. I avoid having to give speeches.

12. I would do anything to avoid being criticized.

13. Heart palpitations bother me when I am around people.

14. I am afraid of doing things when people might be watching.

15. Being embarrassed or looking stupid are among my worst fears.

16. I avoid speaking to anyone in authority.

17. Trembling or shaking in front of others is distressing to me.

Score It Up

What'd ya get? The highest possible result on the questionnaire is a score of 68. According to Psychology Tools, a score on the SPIN between 0 and 20 indicates little or no social anxiety (probably). Above that, and you may exist somewhere on the spectrum of social anxiety disorder. A 2006 evaluation found the SPIN to be a valid assessment scale for screening social anxiety disorder, as well as measuring the severity of social phobia.

Get stories like this one in your inbox or your headphones: sign up for our daily email and subscribe to the Curiosity Daily podcast.

Want more resources on this topic? Check out Hattie C. Cooper's book "Thriving with Social Anxiety: Daily Strategies for Overcoming Anxiety and Building Self-Confidence." We handpick reading recommendations we think you may like. If you choose to make a purchase through that link, Curiosity will get a share of the sale.

Written by Joanie Faletto February 27, 2018

Curiosity uses cookies to improve site performance, for analytics and for advertising. By continuing to use our site, you accept our use of cookies, our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.