Social inhibition is a conscious or subconscious avoidance of a situation or social interaction. With a high level of social inhibition, situations are avoided because of the possibility of others disapproving of their feelings or expressions. It is related to behavior, appearance, social interactions, or a subject matter for discussion. Social inhibition is also related to different components that deal with social evaluation concerns, anxiety in social interaction, social avoidance, and withdrawal. Also related are components such as cognitive brain patterns, anxious apprehension during social interactions, and internalizing problems. It also describes those who suppress anger, restrict social behavior, withdrawal in the face of novelty, and have long latency to interact with strangers.  Individuals can also have a low level of social inhibition. This is seen in everyday life throughout daily interactions with the familiar and unfamiliar. Therefore, everyone is inhibited in different situations, these inhibiting effects can also be seen more during the consumption of alcohol or use of drugs. Major signs of social inhibition in children are cessation of play, long latencies to approaching the unfamiliar person, signs of fear and negative affect, and security seeking.  Also in high level cases of Social Inhibition other social disorders can emerge through development, such as Social Anxiety Disorder and Social Phobia Disorder. 
Understanding Social Inhibition
Low Levels of Social Inhibition
Social Inhibition is apart of our everyday life and many social situations. In a study conducted at the University of Connecticut, researchers observed how individuals interacted and communicated about different slides or reactions to slides they were shown. In this study, there were female participants called “senders”, which viewed twelve emotional loaded slides. There were also participants in the study called “received” that had to guess what slide was viewed by the “senders”. The “senders” were either alone, with a friend, or with a stranger while viewing the slides. The results of the study revealed that, “Strangers had overall inhibitory effects on communication accuracy, whereas friends had facilitative effects on some slides and inhibitory effects on others.”  The results show how anyone can be inhibited in daily life, with strangers or even friends.
This being said, there are also four commonly seen irrational cognitive pattern. The first pattern centers on self-esteem and perfectionism. In these cases, an individual would inhibit themselves though self criticism; they want to do everything the “right” way. The second pattern deals with unrealistic approval needs; here individuals want to gain the approval of others and will fear rejection if they express to much. In the third pattern, unrealistic labeling of aggressive and assertive behavior depicts how many individuals that inhibit themselves may feel as though aggression or assertiveness is bad. They believe if they express these behaviors they will receive a negative label. The last pattern discusses criticism of others, this pattern is a spin off from the first. They will be highly critical of others much like they are to them selves.
High Levels of Social Inhibition
Although Social Inhibition is a common part of life, individuals can also have high levels of inhibition. Social Inhibition on higher levels can sometimes be a precursor to disorders such as Social Anxiety Disorder. In one study, researchers found that some early risk factors may have played a role in having chronically high inhibition. This study had mothers, teachers, and the child report on the child’s behavioral inhibition. The factors that were found to be contributors were female gende, exposure to maternal stress during infancy and the preschool period, and early manifestation of behavioral inhibition.  In higher cases clinical treatment such as therapy maybe necessary to help with social inhibition or the manifesting social disorder. 
Social Inhibition over the Lifespan
Infants and Children
In infants and children, social inhibition is characterized by a temperament style that will have children responding negatively and withdrawing from unfamiliar people, situations and objects.  In addition to cessation of play, long latencies to approaching the unfamiliar person, signs of fear and negative affect, and security seeking.  Avoiding behavior can be seen at a very young age. In one study, researchers found that even at four months of age some infants had negative responses to unfamiliar visual and audio stimuli. The study was longitudinal; therefore, follow ups revealed half the infants with high negative responses continued to show behavioral inhibition through the age of two.  Another longitudinal study reported that “expression of behavioral inhibition, although elicited in different contexts, showed a moderate degree of continuity.” Overtime, the toddlers that were quiet and restrained continued the trend in to childhood by being cautious, quiet, and socially withdrawn. The uninhibited control group of the same ages remained continued to interact easily with unfamiliar people, and situations. . There has also been a link between inhibition at childhood age with social disorders in adolescents and adulthood.  Researchers found that in a longitudinal study from ages two-thirteen, “Sixty- one percent of teens who had been inhibited as toddlers reported social anxiety symptoms, compared to 27% of adolescents who had been uninhibited earlier in life.” 
The caregiver alone is not solely responsible from inhibition in children; however, in some cases it can be a factor. Caregivers can affect the inhibition levels of their child by exposing the child to maternal stress during infancy and the preschool period. In addition, in some situations the child may simply have early manifestation of behavioral inhibition.  There seems to be no parenting style that researchers agree on to be the best to combat social inhibition. Some researchers say that a sensitive, accepting, overprotective is best to reduce the negative behaviors because it will allow the child to be themselves without judgment.  However, other researchers hypothesized that firm parenting styles are better suited for socially inhibited children.  Researchers on board for sensitive parenting believe to firm of a parenting style will send a message to children that says they need to change. 
Reducing Social Inhibitions
Social inhibition can be lowered by a few different factors, one of them being alcohol. Alcohol consumption can be seen to lower inhibitions in both men and women. Social inhibitions generally act to control or impact the way that one conducts themselves in a social setting. By lowering inhibitions alcohol can work to increase social behaviors either negatively or positively. Importantly, one must remember that the higher the dosage of alcohol, the greater the damage it will cause to inhibitory control.
By lowering inhibitions alcohol can cause social behaviors such as aggression, self disclosure, and violent acts.  Researchers have suggested that situational cues used to inhibit social behaviors are not perceived the same way after someone consumes enough alcohol to qualify them as drunk, “interacting parties who are impaired by alcohol are less likely to see justifications for the other’s behavior, are thus more likely to interpret the behavior as arbitrary and provocative, and then, having less access to inhibiting cues and behavioral standards, are more likely to react extremely.”  This idea of increased extreme social behaviors is believed to come as a result of lowered inhibitions after consuming alcohol. Alcohol can lower inhibitions for a number of reasons, it can reduce one’s self-awareness, impair perceptual and cognitive functioning, allows for instigator pressures to have more influence over an individual, and can reduce one’s ability to read inhibitory social cues and standards of conduct. 
When attempting to examine the effects that alcohol consumption has on social inhibition researchers found that after being provoked sober individuals used inhibiting cues, such as the innocence of the instigator and the severity of the retaliation to control their response to the aggressive provocation.  However, the researchers found that an intoxicated individual did not have these same inhibitions and, as a result, exhibited more extreme behaviors of retaliated aggression to the provocation without processing information they would normally consider about the situation. On average, drunken individuals exhibited more aggression, self-disclosure, risk taking behaviors, and laughter than sober individuals.  Extreme behaviors are not as common in sober individuals because they are able to read inhibitory cues and social conduct norms that drunken individuals are not as inclined to consider. These negative social behaviors, then, are a result of lowered social inhibitions.
Alcohol consumption also has the ability to lower inhibitions in a positive way. Research has been conducted looking at the way an intoxicated person is more inclined to be helpful.  Researchers were of the same opinion that alcohol lowers inhibitions and allows for more extreme behaviors, however, they tested to see if this would be true for more socially acceptable situations, such as helping another person. The researchers acknowledged that, generally, an impulse to help another is initiated but then inhibitions will cause the potential helper to consider all factors going into their decision to help or not to help such as, lost time, boredom, fatigue, monetary costs, and possibility of personal harm.  The researchers suggest that while one may be inhibited and therefore less likely to offer help when completely sober, after consuming alcohol enough damage will be done to their inhibitory functioning to actually increase helping.  While this suggestion differs from socially negative behaviors that are seen after social inhibitions have been lowered, it is consistent with the idea that alcohol consumption can lower inhibitions and, as a result, produce more socially extreme behaviors when compared to a sober counterpart.
Alcohol consumption can lower social inhibitions in both men and women, producing social behaviors not typical in the individuals’ day-to-day sober lives. For example, in social settings women will tend to be uncomfortable with sexual acts and provocations as well as feeling uncomfortable in social settings that are generally male dominated such as strip clubs or bars. However, consumption of alcohol has been seen to lower these inhibitions, making women feel freer and more ready to participate socially in events and behaviors that they would normally feel inhibited from participating in if they were sober. As an example, women participating in bachelorette parties generally consume copious amounts of alcohol for the event.  As a result, the females feel less inhibited and are more likely to then engage in behavior that they would normally view as deviant or inappropriate.  In an examination of bachelorette parties it was found that when those attending the party consumed only a couple of drinks behavior minimally reflected any alcohol consumption, assuming that the party guests were still socially inhibited and less inclined to perform deviant behaviors.  Similarly, “levels of intoxication were correlated with the atmosphere of the party, such that parties with little or no alcohol were perceived as less ‘wild’ than parties a lot of alcohol consumption.”  Conceivably, the bachelorette parties show tendencies of “wild” behavior after excessive alcohol consumption, which consequently lowers the inhibitions of the consumers.
When surveyed a number of women who had attended a bachelorette party, or had one in their honor, in the past year reported that their behavior when under the influence of alcohol was different than their behavior when sober.  One party guest reported that, “People drink … to lose inhibitions and stuff that is done… I would never do sober. It lowers inhibitions - that is the main point of it.”  These reports suggest that, “alcohol was used to lower inhibitions about being too sexual, about the risk of being perceived as promiscuous, or about being sexual in public. Women commented that they felt freer to talk about sex while under the influence of alcohol, to flirt with male strangers, or to dance with a male stripper.”  The research collected surrounding women and their alcohol consumption in these settings provide examples of the reduction of social inhibitions in relation to excess alcohol consumption
Clinical Levels of Social Inhibition
There are many implications on the diagnoses of social inhibition, however there are many cost-efficient ways to measure and treat this social disorder. One measure that has reliably asses the traits of social inhibition is the seven-item inhibition scale of the Type D Scale–14.  Another measure is the Behavioral Inhibition Observation System (BIOS). In clinical trials this measure is to be used for children completed by parents, teachers, and clinicians. Other scales are the Behavioral Inhibition Questionnaire (BIQ), Behavioral Inhibition Insturment (BII), the Behavioral Inhibition Scale (BIS), The Preschool Behavioral Inhibition Scale (P-BIS), and the Behavioral Inhibition Scale for children ages 3-6.  There are also many versions of these scales that are specifically for parents, teachers, or even the child or possibly inhibited individual to take.
- Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder
- Audience effect
- Avoidant personality disorder
- Sexual inhibition
- Social anxiety
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