The current study sought to expand the literature on the cognitive process of interpretation bias associated with social anxiety in youth. The interpretation bias in social anxiety includes an assumption that others are inherently hostile and critical therefore the child perceives or anticipates social evaluation of the self by others. Despite the studies examining interpretation bias and self-evaluation, no studies examine whether individuals with social anxiety evaluate others critically and hostilely. Additionally, hostile intent has been conceptualized as a single construct. However, we propose that hostile intent is a two-dimensional construct involving hostile thoughts about others and perceiving that others have hostile intentions toward the self. The construct of hostile intent has traditionally been associated with externalizing disorders in children, rather than social anxiety. We predict that children with social anxiety also experience more thoughts related to hostile intent than non-socially anxious children. However, children who are socially anxious are not typically more aggressive than non-socially anxious children. To explain this difference, it was hypothesized that fear of social evaluation mediates the relationship between hostile intent and social anxiety.
Participants were fourth and fifth grade students (N = 191) from five suburban elementary schools. Data was collected via child self-report measures administered during the school day by advanced graduate students. Results of the exploratory factor analysis largely supported a two factor model of hostile intent. The regression analyses revealed that social evaluation mediated the relationship between hostile intent and social anxiety. Mediation was supported when hostile intent was represented as one construct and when analyzed separately as hostility toward others and perceived hostility from others. Results did not support a model in which fear of social evaluation mediates the relationship between hostile intent and aggression. Potential ways in which cognitive processes may impact the treatment of social anxiety are discussed.
|Advisor:||Halpern, Leslie F.|
|Commitee:||Doyle, Melissa, Israel, Allen C.|
|School:||State University of New York at Albany|
|School Location:||United States -- New York|
|Source:||DAI-B 71/12, Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Developmental psychology, Clinical psychology|
|Keywords:||Aggression, Childhood social anxiety, Cognitive factors, Hostile intent, Interpretation bias, Social anxiety, Social evaluation|
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