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30-08-2016 | Original Paper | Uitgave 12/2016

Journal of Child and Family Studies 12/2016

Patterns of Metaperception in Adolescents with Social Anxiety: Mind Reading in the Classroom

Tijdschrift:
Journal of Child and Family Studies > Uitgave 12/2016
Auteurs:
Klaus Ranta, Eero Laakkonen, Päivi M. Niemi

Abstract

Socially anxious adults display an interpretation bias toward anticipating threat such as a high probability of audience criticism even in nonthreatening social situations. They may also expect more negative audience reactions to self than to others acknowledging anxiety. Few studies have examined such biases in adolescents. We examined negative and positive metaperceptions (i.e., others’ perceived responses) in 13–16-year-old adolescents (n = 655) with high vs. normal social anxiety in a hypothetical classroom scenario, in which the participants predicted the frequency of negative and positive classmate responses when imagining either themselves (self-referent metaperceptions) or a classmate (other-referent metaperceptions) with visible symptoms of social anxiety as the target persons giving a speech. We assessed social anxiety with the Social Anxiety Scale for Adolescents and metaperception using the Classroom Questionnaire of Social Anxiety and Interpersonal Cognition. Social anxiety was associated with negative self-referent metaperceptions to a greater degree than with negative other-referent metaperceptions. Compared with adolescents with normal social anxiety, those with high social anxiety (both boys and girls) predicted a broader range of negative classmate responses toward self, as compared with their predictions of negative responses toward a classmate. These group differences were observed specifically with regard to audience’s predicted covert negative responses (i.e., negative thoughts and feelings) toward self, indicating that socially anxious adolescents tend to mind-read. Minimal group differences in positive metaperceptions were observed. The results reveal target and content specificity in socially anxious adolescents’ negative metaperceptions.

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