Brief Fear of Negative Evaluation Scale


Author of Tool: 

Leary, M. R.

Key references: 

Leary, M. R. (1983). A brief version of the Fear of Negative Evaluation Scale. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 9, 371-376.Rodebaugh, T. L., Woods, C. M., Thissen, D. M., Heimberg, R. G., Chambless, D. L., & Rapee, R. M. (2004). More information from fewer questions: The factor structure and item properties of the original and Brief Fear of Negative Evaluation Scale. Psychological Assessment, 16, 169 –181. Weeks, J. W., Heimberg, R. G., Fresco, D. M., Hart, T. A., Turk, C. L., Schnieier, F. R., & Liebowitz, M. R. (2005). Empirical validation and psychometric evaluation of the Brief Fear of Negative Evaluation Scale in patients with social anxiety disorder. Psychological Assessment, 17, 179–190.

Primary use / Purpose: 

A brief measure of fear of negative evaluation.


A key proposition of cognitive– behavioral models of social anxiety (Clark & Wells, 1995; Rapee & Heimberg, 1997) is that social anxiety is, in part, a response to perceived negative evaluation by others. The construct of fear of negative evaluation consists of feelings of apprehension about others’ evaluations, distress over these negative evaluations, and the expectation that others will evaluate one negatively (Watson & Friend, 1969). This construct is distinct from, but closely related to, social anxiety. Specifically, fear of negative evaluation pertains to the sense of dread associated with being evaluated unfavorably while anticipating or participating in a social situation, whereas social anxiety pertains to affective reactions to these situations. The Brief Fear of Negative Evaluation Scale (BFNE) measures this construct.


When the BFNE Scale was tested on a clinically anxious population. Factor analysis supported the construct validity of the BFNE. The validity of the BFNE was further demonstrated through significant correlations with social avoidance and depression, and non-significant correlations with agoraphobic avoidance and demographic variables. The scale obtained excellent inter-item reliability (α=.97) and 2-week test-retest reliability (r=.94). Discriminant function analysis also supported validity of the BFNE. For example, individuals with social phobia scored significantly higher on the BFNE than those with panic disorder and a group of non-psychiatric community controls (n=30). The BFNE was sensitive to pre- to post-CBT changes in both social anxiety and panic disorder, and changes on the BFNE correlated significantly with other measures of treatment responsiveness, such as reductions in somatic arousal, depression and other anxiety symptomatology. These research findings strongly support the validity of the BFNE and its clinical utility as an outcome measure in social anxiety treatment.



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