Liebowitz Social Anxiety Scale (LSAS)

Woman completing questionnaire
The Liebowitz Social Anxiety Scale is used to measure symptoms of SAD. Getty / Tetra Images

The Liebowitz Social Anxiety Scale (LSAS) is a 24-item, self-rated scale used to assess how social anxiety plays a role in your life across a variety of situations. The LSAS was developed by psychiatrist and researcher Dr. Michael R. Liebowitz.

The scale might be used in research studies to determine the level of social anxiety experienced by participants, in clinical settings to assess a particular patient's symptoms, or by the general public who are concerned that what they are experiencing might be the sign of a disorder.

How the Liebowitz Social Anxiety Scale Is Administered

The LSAS assessed both your social anxiety in situations as well as your avoidance of those situations. In this way, each item on the Liebowitz Social Anxiety Scale describes a situation about which you must answer two questions as follows.

Anxiety Questions

First, you must respond about how anxious or fearful you feel in the situation. This item is rated using a 4-point Likert scale as follows:

  • 0 = none
  • 1 = mild
  • 2 = moderate
  • 3 = severe

Avoidance Questions

Next, you must respond about how often you avoid the situation. This item is rated using a different 4-point Likert scale as follos:

  • 0 = never
  • 1 = occasionally
  • 2 = often
  • 3 = severe

If a question describes a situation that you do not ordinarily experience, you are asked to imagine how you would respond if faced with the situation. All questions are answered based on how the situations have affected you in the past week. Below are some sample situations from the questionnaire:

  • Using a telephone in public
  • Participating in a small group activity
  • Eating in public

This is just a short list, and the LSAS covers many other types of situations that are known to commonly trigger social anxiety performance anxiety and concerns.

Information Provided by the Liebowitz Social Anxiety Scale

The LSAS is scored by summing the item ratings. Below are the suggested interpretations for various score ranges. As with any self-report instrument, scores on the Liebowitz Social Anxiety Scale need to be interpreted by a qualified mental health professional and followed up with a full diagnostic interview for social anxiety disorder (SAD) when warranted.

  • 55-65 Moderate social phobia
  • 65-80 Marked social phobia
  • 80-95 Severe social phobia
  • Greater than 95 - Very severe social phobia

Accuracy of the Liebowitz Social Anxiety Scale

Studies have shown the LSAS to be an effective and cost-efficient way to identify people with problems with social anxiety. However, a single instrument can't be used to make a diagnosis. A clinical diagnosis of social anxiety disorder (SAD) can only be made based on an interview conducted by a trained mental health professional such as a psychologist, psychiatrist, or social worker.

How to Take the Liebowitz Social Anxiety Scale Yourself

Did you know that the LSAS is freely available for you to complete online if you wish? If you complete the test and find the results concerning, be sure to check with your doctor about what they might mean. While a test such as the LSAS can be informative, it's only in the context of a larger assessment that the cause of your symptoms can be determined and a course of action planned.

A Word From Verywell

If you are concerned that you may be living with symptoms of anxiety or avoidance, it's best to make an appointment with your doctor to discuss next steps. If this feels hard to do, consider making an appointment for general mental health concerns, and then when you meet with your doctor, bring along a copy of the LSAS as well as a written statement of what you have been experiencing. Know that you are not alone in the way that you are feeling, and that your doctor can either conduct an assessment or refer you to a mental health professional who can provide a diagnosis and treatment options such as medication or talk therapy.

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