Children's understanding of social anxiety

Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
American Psychological Association
Second-, fourth-, and seventh-grade children evaluated story characters who were either highly or less motivated to impress an audience and had either high or low expectations of being able to accomplish their self-presentational goals. As predicted according to a self-presentation model of social anxiety, both factors were related to judgments of the character's social anxiety, especially for the older children. For all age groups, actors who expected to do poorly rather than well were regarded as more anxious, as more likely to exhibit nervous responses and to have communication difficulties, and as less likely to be successful in accomplishing their goal, and they were evaluated less favorably. The actor's motivation had different effects on younger versus older children: Second graders attributed less anxiety to highly motivated actors, whereas older children attributed greater anxiety to them. For all age groups, high motivation was expected to have a channeling effect on behaviors that would increase interpersonal effectiveness. A finding that was consistent with the literature on social-cognitive development was that older children displayed greater differentiation in their cause-effect inferences, and they better appreciated the complex implications of social anxiety.
Social phobia, Child development, Motivation (Psychology)
Darby, B. W., & Schlenker, B. R. (1986). Children’s understanding of social anxiety. Developmental Psychology, 22(5), 633-639.