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Research projects

The Roles of Emotion Regulation and Parent and Peer Relationships in the Development of Adolescent Social Fears

About this project

Project information

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Project leader: Maria Tillfors, professor, University of Karlstad.

The project was ongoing between 2013 and 2016.

Social anxiety tends to increase in early adolescence, and age 13 is the typical age of onset for social anxiety disorder. Anxiety is a negative emotion, and when people experience negative emotions, they try to reduce them, a process known as emotion regulation. Two commonly used emotion regulation strategies are escape and avoidance. These strategies are counterproductive, however, and are assumed to play important roles in the development of psychological ill health. But there is little empirical evidence about their roles in the development of social anxiety and how they relate to known predictors of social anxiety such as parent and peer relationships. In this project, we will use data from three existing longitudinal databases to examine the joint roles of emotion regulation and parent and peer relationships in the development of adolescent social anxiety. The data are  uniquely suited for examining these issues because of their rich information on the measures of interest. We will address issues that have not been addressed previously: whether parents or peers are comparatively more important, whether they affect adolescents’ social anxiety through their effects on emotion regulation strategies, whether these relationships are also affected by social anxiety and emotion regulation, to name a few. Because little research exists on social anxiety in adolescence and our questions address novel issues, this project will contribute important, new knowledge to the field.

Research funding bodies

  • Swedish Research Council