Background. Social anxiety is one of the most common and disturbing conditions of childhood and adolescence. It is defined as an excessive fear of embarrassment or humiliation in social performance situations. Recent studies have identified a number of psychological factors that could explain the maintenance of the condition.
Objective. The objective of this study was to investigate psychological factors of social anxiety in adolescents with a multifactor psychosocial model.
Design: The study population comprised 183 Russian-speaking adolescents from Moscow secondary schools, ranging in age from 12 to 16 years. Self-report measures were used to access social anxiety, symptoms of depression, gender role identification, perfectionism, hostility, family emotional communications, and social support.
Results. The results indicate that social anxiety was positively correlated with symptoms of depression and suicidal thoughts. No quantitative differences in social anxiety between girls and boys were found, while masculinity and undifferentiated gender identification had a strong association with social anxiety. A positive correlation was found between “concern over mistakes” (fear of making a mistake and being negatively compared with peers) and “overdoing” (spending too much time doing homework and too little or none communicating with peers), using the Child Perfectionism Questionnaire (CPQ) subscales and Social Anxiety and Distress Scale (SADS) total score. Positive correlations were found between social anxiety and suppression of emotions and outward well-being subscales, as well in as the Family Emotional Communication (FEC) total score. It is not common to discuss emotions and feelings; it is difficult to share negative experiences; and it is important for the families of socially anxious adolescents to put up a good front. Analysis revealed significant negative correlations between the SADS total score (as well its subscales) and the Social Support scale total score and emotional support subscale; the Practical Support scale negatively correlated with the SADS total score.
Conclusion. These findings confirm our hypothesis that social anxiety has a complex nature and can be dealt with by a multifactor psychosocial model.
Keywords: social anxiety, adolescents, gender, perfectionism, family