The Social Ties That Bind: Social Anxiety and Academic Achievement Across the University Years
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Given that engagement and integration in university/college are considered key to successful academic achievement, the identifying features of social anxiety, including fear of negative evaluation and distress and avoidance of new or all social situations, may be particularly disadvantageous in the social and evaluative contexts that are integral to university/college life. Thus, the purpose of this study was to examine the direct effects of social anxiety on academic achievement, as well as investigate an indirect mechanism through which social anxiety might impact on academic achievement, namely, the formation of new social ties in university. The participants were 942 (71.7 % female; M = 19 years at Time 1) students enrolled in a mid-sized university in Southern Ontario, Canada. Students completed annual assessments of social anxiety, social ties, and academic achievement for three consecutive years. The results from an autoregressive cross-lag path analysis indicated that social anxiety had a significant and negative direct relationship with academic achievement. Moreover, the negative indirect effect of social anxiety on academic achievement through social ties was significant, as was the opposing direction of effects (i.e., the indirect effect of academic achievement on social anxiety through social ties). These findings highlight the critical role that social ties appear to play in successful academic outcomes and in alleviating the effects of social anxiety during university/college.
KeywordsSocial anxiety Social ties Academic achievement Late adolescence Longitudinal
Funding for this longitudinal project was provided by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada to Teena Willoughby.
CB conceived the study, participated in the design of the study, performed the statistical analyses, and participated in the drafting of the manuscript; TW helped conceive the study, participated in the design and coordination of the study, performed the statistical analyses, collected the data, and participated in the drafting of the manuscript. Both authors read and approved the final manuscript.
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