Document Type


Date of Degree Completion

Spring 2023

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Experimental Psychology

Committee Chair

Kara Gabriel

Second Committee Member

Susan Lonborg

Third Committee Member

Mark Stewart


Prior research has shown that individuals experiencing social anxiety may use cannabis for self-medication; therefore, the current study evaluated if viewing cannabis cues would reduce feelings of social anxiety. Central Washington University undergraduates enrolled in psychology courses (n = 124; 66.7% female; Mage = 19.8, SDage = 4.7) were shown cannabis cues after viewing expressive facial images that prior research has shown induces feelings of social anxiety. Contrary to prior research, the current study found that emotional faces did not significantly affect state-trait anxiety as measured by the 6-item State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI-6) but that trait social anxiety served as a significant covariate that did influence state-trait anxiety levels. An analysis of covariance evaluating the effects of state-trait anxiety and exposure to cannabis cues with past cannabis use as a covariate demonstrated a significant effect of state-trait anxiety levels on end-state social anxiety as measured by the Ambiguous Scenario Test for Depression (AST-D). For participants who viewed cannabis-themed cues, those with high state-trait anxiety scores had lower AST-D scores (M = 23.5, SD = 6.9) and, therefore, higher state social anxiety, than did participants who had low state-trait anxiety (M = 26.6, SD = 7.6). Thus, the current findings indicate that state-trait anxiety had a higher impact on end-state social anxiety levels in response to ambiguous social situations than did viewing cannabis-themed cues. In conclusion, trait anxiety and cannabis use did not influence participants’ perceptions of ambiguous social scenarios, but state anxiety and the interaction between state anxiety and cue type did.