Overprotective Parenting, Social Anxiety, and External Locus of Control: Cross-sectional and Longitudinal Relationships

  • Megan SpokasEmail author
  • Richard G. Heimberg
Original Article


A relationship between social anxiety and a parenting style marked by overprotection and low warmth has been repeatedly demonstrated (e.g., Bruch et al. in Anxiety Reaserch 2:57–65, 1989; Lieb et al. in Arch Gen Psychiatry 57:859–866, 2000). The current study supports the findings in the broader literature of a significant relationship between social anxiety and recollections of overprotective and cold parenting among college students. External locus of control partially mediated the relationship between overprotective parenting and social anxiety. However, these analyses used cross-sectional data, and an alternate mediational model was also significant, highlighting the various ways in which these factors interact. Finally, recollections of maternal overprotection predicted an increase in social anxiety during the first semester of college, suggesting their influence on current functioning.


Social anxiety Parenting Locus of control Mediator 



This study was part of Megan Spokas’s doctoral dissertation conducted at Temple University under the mentorship of Richard G. Heimberg. The authors wish to thank Lauren B. Alloy, Deborah A. G. Drabick, Robert Fauber, Melissa Napolitano, and Robert Ruchinskas, who served on the dissertation defense committee.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Psychopathology Research Unit, Department of PsychiatryUniversity of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA
  2. 2.Adult Anxiety Clinic of Temple, Department of PsychologyTemple UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA

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