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When Parents and Adolescents Make Discrepant Reports About Parental Monitoring: Links to Adolescent Social Anxiety When Interacting With Unfamiliar Peers

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Abstract

Adolescents frequently experience social anxiety, with parents often serving as the primary source of clinical referral. Yet, adolescents’ needs for services often revolve around social anxiety that manifests when interacting with unfamiliar peers. Emerging work indicates that parents’ reports about adolescent social anxiety fail to predict adolescents’ self-reported experiences in these unfamiliar peer interactions. Detecting modifiable factors in the family environment may facilitate accurate detection of social environments that contribute to adolescents’ anxiety-related needs, and thus inform the goals of anxiety-related services. Low levels of one such family factor—parental monitoring (i.e., parental efforts to track adolescents’ whereabouts and activities)—robustly pose risk for adolescent maladjustment across various domains. Further, emerging work highlights the value of understanding patterns of discrepancies between parents’ and adolescents’ reports about parental monitoring. In this study, 134 adolescents and their parents completed parallel reports on a widely used survey measure of parental monitoring. Adolescents also participated in a controlled laboratory task (i.e., Unfamiliar Peer Paradigm) that simulates how adolescents interact with same-age, unfamiliar peers. Using recommended regression-based procedures for testing discrepancy hypotheses (i.e., polynomial regression and response surface analyses), we found that the interaction between low levels of either adolescent- or parent-reported parental monitoring (i.e., relative to each other) predicted increased adolescent social anxiety, based on trained independent observers’ ratings of adolescents’ behavior within the Unfamiliar Peer Paradigm. These findings have important implications for delivering mental health services for adolescent social anxiety, and accurately interpreting discrepancies between parents’ and adolescents’ reports about parental monitoring.

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Funding

Efforts by the sixth author were supported by a grant from the Fulbright U.S. Scholars Program (Fulbright Canada Research Chair in Mental Health). Efforts by the first, third, and sixth authors were supported by a grant from the Institute of Education Sciences (R324A180032).

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First author: assisted in executing the study, assisted with data analyses, and wrote the paper. Second and fifth author: assisted with data analyses and collaborated in editing the paper. Third and fourth authors: assisted in executing the study, assisted with data analyses, and collaborated in editing the paper. Sixth author: designed the study, assisted in executing the study, assisted with data analyses, and collaborated in editing the paper.

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Correspondence to Andres De Los Reyes.

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Lauren M. Keeley, Robert D. Laird, Noor Qasmieh, Sarah J. Racz, Christine M. Ohannessian, and Andres De Los Reyes declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Keeley, L.M., Laird, R.D., Qasmieh, N. et al. When Parents and Adolescents Make Discrepant Reports About Parental Monitoring: Links to Adolescent Social Anxiety When Interacting With Unfamiliar Peers. J Psychopathol Behav Assess 46, 343–356 (2024). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10862-024-10132-5

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