Weight in childhood and its association with social anxiety in adolescence: pathways examining withdrawal and social stress

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Ashley R. Brown (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/
Susan Keane

Abstract: Evidence from the field of developmental psychopathology suggests that a diathesis-stress model is one effective way to investigate pathways to maladaptive outcomes. Social anxiety, defined as fear experienced during social interaction because of concern of being judged negatively or humiliated by others, is one maladaptive outcome that emerges in adolescence and interferes with adaptive social and academic functioning. Social anxiety is thought to result from a combination of factors, which can include withdrawn behavior and negative social experiences. However, greater weight, traditionally considered a risk factor for physical health problems, also functions as a precipitating factor in childhood for the development of social anxiety in adolescence. The current study used a path analysis to examine the indirect effect of social withdrawal on the association between greater weight at age 10 and increased social anxiety at age 17, and whether this indirect effect was conditional on the child’s self-report of social stress at age 10. Weight was assessed through BMI. Social anxiety was assessed via self-report scores on the MASC Social Anxiety scale. Social withdrawal was assessed through mother report on the CBCL Withdrawn/Depressed scale. Social stress was assessed using the self-report form of the BASC-2 Social Stress scale. Although an indirect effect of BMI on social anxiety was initially found through withdrawal, a multigroup analysis by sex demonstrated that while higher BMI predicted greater social withdrawal for boys, this path was not significant for girls. Differently, while greater withdrawal predicted greater social anxiety for girls, this effect was not found for boys. BMI did not interact with social stress to predict withdrawal for boys or girls, nor did BMI at age 10 predict social anxiety at age 17. Implications for future research examining the role of weight in understanding the development of social anxiety through the social domain are discussed.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2019
Adolescence, Peer stress, Social anxiety, Weight, Withdrawal
Obesity in children $x Psychological aspects
Obesity in children $x Social aspects
Social phobia in adolescence

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