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07-02-2019 | Original Paper | Uitgave 5/2019

Journal of Child and Family Studies 5/2019

Loneliness, Social Anxiety, and Depressive Symptoms in Adolescence: Examining Their Distinctiveness Through Factor Analysis

Tijdschrift:
Journal of Child and Family Studies > Uitgave 5/2019
Auteurs:
Sofie Danneel, Patricia Bijttebier, Margot Bastin, Hilde Colpin, Wim Van den Noortgate, Karla Van Leeuwen, Karine Verschueren, Luc Goossens
Belangrijke opmerkingen
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Abstract

Objectives

Adolescents face multiple changes in their social environment, which makes them more vulnerable to developing internalizing problems with strong interpersonal components, such as feelings of loneliness, social anxiety, and depressive symptoms. Given the widespread tacit assumption that these internalizing problems represent distinct concepts, research on these internalizing problems has evolved relatively independently. However, this assumption of distinctiveness has not often been empirically tested, especially not in adolescence. In order to check whether it is valid to examine loneliness, social anxiety, and depressive symptoms independently, the current study empirically tested whether these internalizing problems reflect a single latent construct or whether they are better represented by three distinct latent constructs.

Methods

Three large samples of Flemish adolescents were used (i.e., N= 549, Mage = 14.82 in Sample 1; N= 1,116, Mage = 13.79, in Sample 2, and N= 1,423, Mage = 13.58 in Sample 3) in which adolescents filled out well-established and validated self-report questionnaires tapping into the three types of internalizing problems. Confirmatory factor analysis was conducted in each sample separately. Adolescents filled out well-established and validated self-report questionnaires.

Results

The results contribute to the literature on the co-occurrence of loneliness, social anxiety, and depressive symptoms by showing that these internalizing problems can be best represented as interrelated, but distinguishable constructs.

Conclusions

Based on our findings, examining loneliness, social anxiety, and depressive symptoms in separate research lines seems justified. Statistical techniques examining co-development over time for these internalizing problems can be used with confidence in future research.

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