NIH Research Festival
Social reticence, an early dimension of personality, is characterized by shyness and avoidance of peers, while still maintaining attention toward the social behaviors of those peers (Rubin et al., Chapter 8, 2018). Socially-reticent children are more at risk for negative developmental outcomes (Chronis-Tuscano et al., 2009). The current study aims to examine if childhood social reticence strongly predicts anxiety symptoms, in two longitudinal cohorts: One, selectively sampled at 4 months to be highly reactive, a predictor of social reticence; and another that was a community sample. Finding similar associations in the two cohorts would speak to the clinical relevance of social reticence. 705 children in both cohorts (N cohort 1=291, N cohort 2=414), participated in standardized lab interactions with unfamiliar peers from age 2 to 7. From this, researchers identified shyness and social reticence behaviors, creating a composite score for each participant. At age 12, the children’s anxiety symptoms were assessed using the Screen for Child Anxiety Related Disorders, the Social Anxiety Scale, and the KSADS clinical interview. Results indicated that there was a significant main effect of social reticence on anxiety (p.050). This suggests that comparable associations manifest in the two cohorts. The moderate association (r=.284) between childhood social reticence and anxiety controlling for cohort is notable, given the time separating the assessment of the two constructs. These findings demonstrate that social reticence can be considered a clinically relevant, robust dimension by which to predict the development of psychopathology.
Scientific Focus Area: Social and Behavioral Sciences
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