SPIN: Social Phobia Inventory

The SPIN, due to its simplicity and good psychometric properties, is a great option for detecting social phobia.
SPIN: Social Phobia Inventory
Elena Sanz

Written and verified by the psychologist Elena Sanz.

Last update: 21 December, 2022

For sufferers, social phobia is a really limiting anxiety disorder. Fortunately, there are effective treatment protocols to address it. However, a proper diagnosis is essential. Among the instruments used to measure social anxiety, the social phobia inventory (SPIN) constitutes an extremely useful screening tool.

The information the inventory provides isn’t sufficient in itself. In fact, it must always be complemented with a deeper evaluation. Nonetheless, it’s an effective first step in detecting the presence of social phobia in an individual. Next, we’ll take a look at the most relevant characteristics of this test.

Boy with social phobia at home looking out the window

Social phobia

Before learning how the test is structured and what it specifically measures, we must be clear about what social phobia consists of. This anxiety disorder is characterized by an excessive and irrational fear of social situations.

The fear of being judged or evaluated negatively by other people leads the individual to avoid interactions. Alternatively, they might endure them at the cost of great personal discomfort.

This disorder can be accompanied by physical symptoms. For example, blushing, upset stomach, dry mouth, and other physiological manifestations of anxiety. In addition, the interference that social phobia produces in the sufferer’s life is high. That’s because the connection with others is essential.

Daily activities such as calling on the phone, having an informal chat, or eating in public can be a real nightmare for the social phobic. In addition, the avoidance of feared situations only contributes to increasing discomfort and the feeling of incapacity. In this way, the disorder is perpetuated and fed back.

SPIN: Social Phobia Inventory

Structure

The SPIN is a self-applied scale that’s simple and quick to complete. It consists of 17 statements that reflect symptoms associated with social phobia. The person has to select the intensity with which they appeared in their life during the last week. There are five response options ranging from 0 (absent) to 4 (disabling, where it’s bothered them to an extreme degree).

The items address issues related to fear, avoidance, and the psychological discomfort the individual has experienced. The total score provided by the test ranges from between zero and 68 points. The higher the score, the more likely it is that the individual suffers from social phobia.

SPIN questionnaire

  1. I am afraid of authority figures.
  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.

Abridged version

An abbreviated version of this questionnaire has been established. This uses only statements six, nine, and 15. The answers given to these items predict the probability that the person suffers from social anxiety by 90 percent.

Person doing the SPIN test

The usefulness of the Social Phobia Inventory (SPIN)

This instrument has been shown to have adequate psychometric properties. Furthermore, it has good reliability and validity and is capable of accurately detecting the presence of social anxiety. It also appears to be able to discriminate between social anxiety disorders and generalized anxiety. Therefore, it’s a reliable measure.

On the other hand, it’s a screening instrument, so its capacity is limited. Consequently, if, after applying it, results are found that are compatible with a diagnosis of social anxiety, a more in-depth evaluation with other types of instruments will be necessary. Indeed, the information it provides, while useful for detection, is insufficient for diagnosis and treatment.

For this reason, the data obtained must always be contrasted and complemented with other evaluation options. Nevertheless, its effective properties added to its simplicity and speed, make SPIN a great alternative.

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  • Bravo, M. A., González Betanzos, F., Castillo Navarro, Á., & Padrós Blázquez, F. (2017). Evidencias de validez de la versión en español del Inventario de Fobia Social (SPIN). Universitas Psychologica16(2), 152-163.
  • Connor, K. M., Kobak, K. A., Churchill, L. E., Katzelnick, D., & Davidson, J. R. (2001). Mini‐SPIN: A brief screening assessment for generalized social anxiety disorder. Depression and anxiety14(2), 137-140.

The contents of Exploring Your Mind are for informational and educational purposes only. They don't replace the diagnosis, advice, or treatment of a professional. In the case of any doubt, it's best to consult a trusted specialist.