Multi-Informant Assessments of Individual Differences in Adolescents’ Socio-Evaluative Fears: Clinical Correlates and Links to Arousal within Social Interactions
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Socially anxious adolescents often display fears of negative evaluation (FNE) and fears of positive evaluation (FPE). The Bivalent Fear of Evaluation model posits that FNE and FPE represent two poles of socio-evaluative fears, and that individuals may simultaneously display high levels of FNE and FPE (high FNE/FPE). To what degree do adolescents who display high FNE/FPE differ in psychosocial functioning from adolescents who display high concerns on one domain and not the other (either high FNE/low FPE, or low FNE/high FPE), or low concerns on both domains (i.e., low FNE/FPE)? We tested this broader question (a) across multiple psychosocial domains, (b) using multiple informants’ reports to identify adolescents’ patterns of socio-evaluative fears, and (c) in relation to adolescents’ reactions to anxiety-provoking social situations with unfamiliar peers.
One-hundred twenty-seven 14–15-year-old adolescents and their parents completed measures of adolescents’ FNE, FPE, and domains of psychosocial functioning (i.e., social anxiety, safety behaviors, depressive symptoms, psychosocial impairments). Adolescents participated in several social interaction tasks with unfamiliar peers. Adolescents self-reported on their arousal during these tasks and the unfamiliar peers with whom they interacted completed measures of social anxiety about the adolescent.
High FNE/FPE adolescents tended to display poorer psychosocial functioning relative to adolescents who displayed other patterns of socio-evaluative fears. Based on adolescent-classified groups, high FNE/FPE adolescents displayed greater self-reported arousal during social interactions, relative to the other groups.
Identifying adolescents’ patterns of socio-evaluative fears may inform interpretations of the individual differences among adolescents’ clinical presentations of social anxiety.
KeywordsAdolescents Assessment Fear of negative evaluation Fear of positive evaluation Social anxiety
The second, third, and anchor authors’ work on this paper was supported by the Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education, through Grant R324A180032 to University of Maryland at College Park. The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not represent views of the Institute or the U.S. Department of Education.
First author: collaborated in writing the paper and assisted in executing the study. Second, fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth authors: assisted in executing the study and collaborated in editing the paper. Third author: assisted in executing the study, assisted with data analyses and collaborated in editing the paper. Fourth author: collaborated in editing the paper. Anchor author: designed the study, assisted in executing the study, assisted with data analyses, and collaborated in writing the paper.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the University of Maryland at College Park’s Institutional Review Board and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
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