Mini-Social Phobia Inventory (Mini-SPIN)

A doctor explains test results to a patient.
Getty / Peerawat Kamklay

The Mini-Social Phobia Inventory (Mini-SPIN) is a 3-item, self-rated scale originally developed to screen for generalized social anxiety disorder (SAD). The Mini-SPIN was developed by Dr. Jonathan Davidson of Duke University Medical Center, based on the longer 17-item social phobia inventory (SPIN).

As professionals no longer distinguish between different types of social anxiety disorder (generalized vs. specific), this scale would be used for the assessment of social anxiety disorder of all types. Previously, the generalized subtype referred to people who experienced trouble with many social and performance situations, while the specific subtype referred to people who had trouble with only one (often public speaking).

How the Mini-SPIN Is Administered

The Mini-SPIN is generally used as a screening instrument for social anxiety disorder. Your doctor may use the questions on the Mini-SPIN to determine whether you are at risk for this disorder. A score on this instrument can't determine whether you meet the criteria for a diagnosis. Rather, it is the first step that your doctor might use to see whether further testing is needed.

The Mini-SPIN contains three items about avoidance and fear of embarrassment that you rate based on the past week.

The items are rated using a 5-point Likert scale: 0 = not at all, 1 = a little bit, 2 = somewhat, 3 = very much, and 4 = extremely.

  1. Fear of embarrassment causes me to avoid doing things or speaking to people.
  2. I avoid activities in which I am the center of attention.
  3. Being embarrassed or looking stupid are among my worst fears.

Scales such as this are often also used for research purposes when scientists want to determine the level of a problem in a large group or assess change over time in a particular problem. In this case, they might use the Mini-SPIN to assess for risk of social anxiety disorder or change in social anxiety symptoms over time.

Generally, however, a short assessment like this is used as a screening test to tell your doctor whether to move on to ask more questions.

It's important that you answer as honestly as possible, even though it might feel embarrassing at the time.

Information Provided by the Mini-SPIN

The Mini-SPIN is scored by summing the item ratings. Scores of 6 or higher on the Mini-SPIN indicate possible problems with social anxiety. Scores this high would generally be followed up with a full diagnostic interview for SAD with a trained mental health professional.

The Accuracy of the Mini-SPIN

With a cutoff score of 6 or greater, the Mini-SPIN showed 90% accuracy in diagnosing the presence or absence of generalized social anxiety disorder in a managed care population.

Results from a 2016 study published in the journal Cognitive Behavioral Therapy demonstrated that the Mini-SPIN had excellent ability to distinguish between people with and without social anxiety disorder in a clinical sample of individuals with other disorders.

Compute Your Score

Rate each of the items above from 0 to 4. Add up the three item scores to compute your total score.

For example, if you answered 4 to question 1, 3 to question 2, and 4 to question 3, your total score would be 11. 

Next, compare your score to the cutoff score of 6. 

In this case, the score of 11 is well above the score of 6.

When used as a screening tool, scores of 6 or higher indicate possible problems with social anxiety. 

A Word From Verywell

If you have a score that indicates a possible problem with social anxiety or feel that your social anxiety is a hindrance, it is best to contact your doctor or a mental health professional for advice. While social anxiety can feel overwhelming, there are effective treatments that could help, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy and medication, depending on your individual circumstances.

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