The Liebowitz Social Anxiety Scale (LSAS) is a 24-item measurement scale that is used to assess whether social anxiety is a problem for you in various areas of your life. This test was developed by psychiatrist and researcher Dr. Michael R. Liebowitz, hence the name!
This test isn’t just useful in research settings though; you can also take it yourself to assess whether what you are feeling could be social anxiety. I’ll point you in the direction of where you can take the test in a little bit.
Why It’s Used
The Liebowitz Social Anxiety Scale (LSAS) is mostly used in research studies to assess levels of social anxiety symptoms of participants before and after a treatment. It might also be used by a psychologist or psychiatrist to figure out exactly what sort of issues you are having.
The test is interesting in that it assesses both anxiety and avoidance. So, for example, perhaps I don’t fear public speaking, but digging a little deeper, we find out that it’s because I avoid it. That’s important to know too!
What the Items Look Like
The very first item on this test is “Telephoning in Public.”
What you do then is choose how much fear/anxiety this item causes you by picking a rating from the scale below:
- 0 = none
- 1 = mild
- 2 = moderate
- 3 = severe
Then, you choose how much you avoid the situation based on the choices below:
- 0 = never
- 1 = occasionally
- 2 = often
- 3 = severe
What if you never have to make calls in public? In that case, you would imagine how you would feel if you had to. For example, if you had a job where you had to make phone calls while your coworkers listened, how would you feel?
I remember I used to have a job like this, and although I did not avoid it, it definitely made me more anxious than if I could make the calls in private. I still catch myself to this day wandering off to make phone calls if I’m in a group.
The other thing is that this test is asking about what you’ve done in the past week. So, I would be thinking about a time in the past week that I had to make a phone call in front of other people.
How It’s Scored
Now that you’ve seen how the items work, how is it scored? Quite simply, you add up all the individual item scores to get a total. And then you compare your total to the list below. If you take the test as noted below, it will calculate your total for you automagically.
- 55-65 Moderate
- 65-80 Marked
- 80-95 Severe
- >95 – Very severe
Remember though, your score on this test needs to be considered in the larger context of your life, which is what a psychologist, psychiatrist, or other counselor would do.
And just an aside: I used to work for a test development company, and I can tell you that a ton of work goes into developing these tests and how they are scored!
Accuracy of the Liebowitz
The LSAS is mostly used as a screening assessment, because it is cost efficient for this purpose. This means that you can give it to a large group of people (like in a research study) and it will be helpful to figure out who is struggling.
When I worked in a research lab, our study participants were given a whole booklet of tests like these to take at intervals during the study.
Where to Take It
If you’d like to take the Liebowitz Social Anxiety Scale, you can do that for free at this link. However, I want to make it very clear that this is only for your own information to learn more about your symptoms. Only a mental health professional can formally assess and treat social anxiety—that’s not done with a single test.
In fact, in that research lab, we used to do a full two-hour clinical interview with study participants to assess their symptoms. The paper-and-pencil tests were just one piece of the puzzle.
What to Do Next
What if you’ve taken the Liebowitz and now you think social anxiety is a real problem for you? The best next step is to make an appointment with your doctor. If that feels to scary or hard, you could ask a friend or family member to call for you. And if seeing someone in person is just too much, I recommend online therapy through Betterhelp. You can read more about the service in my review.
If you do meet someone in person, or even if you are chatting with a therapist through Betterhelp, you could let that person know what your score was on the Liebowitz Social Anxiety Scale. This will give a good starting point to help that person know what you are struggling with.
Most importantly, I want you to know that you are not alone! There are peple just like you all over the world living with the same struggles, and many who have overcome them to the point that they are manageable. I want you to know that it is possible for you too.