Social Phobia Inventory (SPIN)

The Social Phobia Inventory (abbreviated as SPIN) is a 17-item questionnaire for screening and measuring severity of Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia – SP). It was developed in 2000 by Connor et al. at the Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences Department, Duke University, USA. At the time, available self-rated social phobia scales, did not assesses the spectrum of fear, avoidance, and physiological symptoms, all of which are clinically important. Because of this limitation, Social Phobia Inventory (SPIN) was developed. SPIN assess different aspects related to Social phobia – fear, avoidance, and physiologic symptoms. It is suitable for adult population (18+). Main application is for measuring change following pharmacological treatment. It also appears to be a useful screening tool for distinguishing between people with and without SP.

Example items:

I am afraid of people in authority

I am bothered by blushing in front of people

Parties and social events scare me

I avoid talking to people I don’t know

Each item is measured on a 5-point Likert scale, ranging from 0 (not at all) to 4 (extremely). Respondents indicate how much each item bothered them during the past week.  A categorical interpretation is suggested, were scores less than 20 are considered no SP, 21-30 mild SP, 31-40 moderate SP, 41-50 severe SP, and 51 or higher  very severe SP.

Psychometric properties

Results from the original validation study suggest that the SPIN possesses strong internal consistency (Full scale α 0.94, subscales -0.80-0.91), adequate test–retest reliability (r = 0.78), significant convergent validity with Brief Social Phobia Scale (r = 0.57, sub-scale r = 0.47-0.66), divergent validity across 3 measures ranged from r = 0.01- 0.34, adequate construct validity – was able to differentiate between subjects with and without social phobia (cut off score 19), also different levels of social phobia were reflected by different levels of SPIN scores.

Principal Component Factor analysis revealed 5 main factors –

  • Factor 1 reflected social inadequacy with fear and avoidance of talking to strangers and of social gatherings,
  • Factor 2 related to self-esteem identifying fear and avoidance of criticism,
  • Factor 3 identified physiological symptoms
  • Factor 4 reflected social inferiority with fear and avoidance of authority
  • Factor 5 loaded on avoidance of attention to oneself, specifically being centre of attention and public speaking.

However, there is preliminary support for both a 3-factor and a 5-factor structure. Further evaluation study by Antony et al., 2006, confirmed the original findings. They also stated that of the three proposed subscales on the SPIN, the physiological arousal subscale appeared to be the most limiting. Another study conducted with Brazilian university students also found SPIN to have excellent psychometric properties. Mini SPIN, a 3 – item questionnaire has also been found to have good sensitivity and specificity. SPIN can be accessed from – . It is freely available.


Antony, M. M., Coons, M. J., McCabe, R. E., Ashbaugh, A., & Swinson, R. P. (2006). Psychometric properties of the social phobia inventory: Further evaluation. Behaviour research and therapy44(8), 1177-1185.

Connor, K. M., Davidson, J. R., Churchill, L. E., Sherwood, A., Weisler, R. H., & FOA, E. (2000). Psychometric properties of the social phobia inventory (SPIN). The British Journal of Psychiatry176(4), 379-386.

Osório, F. L., Crippa, J. A. S., & Loureiro, S. R. (2010). Evaluation of the psychometric properties of the Social Phobia Inventory in university students. Comprehensive Psychiatry51(6), 630-640.

Ranta, K., Kaltiala-Heino, R., Koivisto, A. M., Tuomisto, M. T., Pelkonen, M., & Marttunen, M. (2007). Age and gender differences in social anxiety symptoms during adolescence: The Social Phobia Inventory (SPIN) as a measure. Psychiatry Research153(3), 261-270.