- Red cheeks, sweaty palms, and coy-smiles
- The role of emotional and socio-cognitive disturbances in child social anxiety
- Award date
- 9 June 2017
- Number of pages
- Document type
- PhD thesis
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Research Institute of Child Development and Education (RICDE)
Being concerned about what other people think of us is socially adaptive because it helps us behave in ways that promote bonding with others. However, in the Western world, one in every 10 individuals experiences extreme concerns about being negatively evaluated by others, which impair their daily functioning. These individuals suffer from Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD).
What makes people develop SAD? Current theories propose broad genetic and environmental factors, such as temperament and parenting. Little is known, however, about emotional and socio-cognitive processes that underlie SAD. Given the social nature of social anxiety, the key to understanding SAD is to examine these processes in social situations. How do children at risk for SAD think about others? Do they accurately understand other people’s intentions and behaviors? How do they feel in social situations? Which of these thoughts and feelings pose them at risk for SAD?
In this dissertation, I address these questions by examining emotional and socio-cognitive disturbances underlying the development of social anxiety in childhood. I focus on two key developmental junctures—early childhood, when social anxiety emerges, and on late childhood, when social anxiety peaks. Through nine studies, I propose that children at risk for SAD perceive social situations that involve the possibility of making a negative impression on others as threatening. They have difficulties understanding other people’s intentions and behaviors and they become distressed, which lead them to avoid these situations. Such avoidance, in turn, maintains social anxiety over time. Insight into these processes creates leverage for clinical interventions to curb SAD.
- Please note that, for copyright reasons, the front cover is not included in the thesis download.
Thesis (Embargo until 09 June 2019)
Chapter 2: Bumping heart and sweaty palms: Physiological hyperarousel as a risk factor for child social anxiety (Embargo until 09 June 2018)
Chapter 5: When gushing leads to blushing: Inflated praise increases blushing in socially anxious children (Embargo until 09 June 2019)
Chapter 6: Shy but not behaviorally inhibited: New insights into childhood shyness (Embargo until 09 June 2019)
Chapter 7: Bashful kids: Age trends in the levels and understanding of shyness and blushing (Embargo until 09 June 2019)
Chapter 9: Child social anxiety and blushing: Rooted in poor or exceptional theory of mind (Embargo until 09 June 2019)
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