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Research projects

How Do Wallflowers Grow? Development of Shyness and Social Anxiety in the Adolescent Peer Context

About this project

Project information

Project status

Completed

Research subject

Research environments

Fear of meeting and talking with people keeps many adults from building the kinds of relationships they want with friends and romantic partners. Social fears also hinder many people in their work. These problems might have their roots in adolescence, when developmental changes create more pressure than ever before for youths to meet new people and form new peer relationships. Social fears have been studied in two traditions - developmental and clinical - but research in both traditions has been largely cross-sectional and has focused much on adults and young children. Thus, relatively little is known about the development of social fears in adolescence and the role peers play. In this project we will use data from two longitudinal studies of adolescent development. Both studies contain measures of subclinical and clinical social fears, extensive information on peer relationships, and measures of issues such as depression, problem behavior, and self-harm. With these data we will conduct a series of studies to build knowledge of social fears in the adolescent peer context, including: how subclinical social fears differ developmentally from clinically relevant fears; whether there are different subgroups of social fears; and how social fears are related to self-harm, depression, alcohol use, and antisocial behavior. The project will advance theory and provide unique new knowledge about the development and consequences of social fears in adolescence.