, Volume 38, Issue 1, pp 33-41,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 13 Aug 2009

Peer Perceptions of Social Skills in Socially Anxious and Nonanxious Adolescents


Previous studies using adult observers are inconsistent with regard to social skills deficits in nonclinical socially anxious youth. The present study investigated whether same age peers perceive a lack of social skills in the socially anxious. Twenty high and 20 low socially anxious adolescents (13–17 years old) were recorded giving a 5-min speech. Unfamiliar peer observers (12–17 years old) viewed the speech samples and rated four social skills: speech content, facial expressions, posture and body movement, and way of speaking. Peer observers perceived high socially anxious adolescents as significantly poorer than low socially anxious adolescents on all four social skills. Moreover, for all skills except facial expressions, group differences could not be attributed to adolescents’ self-reported level of depression. We suggest that therapists take the perceptions of same age peers into account when assessing the social skills of socially anxious youth.