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01-05-2015 | Empirical Research | Uitgave 5/2015

Journal of Youth and Adolescence 5/2015

The Social Ties That Bind: Social Anxiety and Academic Achievement Across the University Years

Journal of Youth and Adolescence > Uitgave 5/2015
Christina A. Brook, Teena Willoughby


Given that engagement and integration in university/college are considered key to successful academic achievement, the identifying features of social anxiety, including fear of negative evaluation and distress and avoidance of new or all social situations, may be particularly disadvantageous in the social and evaluative contexts that are integral to university/college life. Thus, the purpose of this study was to examine the direct effects of social anxiety on academic achievement, as well as investigate an indirect mechanism through which social anxiety might impact on academic achievement, namely, the formation of new social ties in university. The participants were 942 (71.7 % female; M = 19 years at Time 1) students enrolled in a mid-sized university in Southern Ontario, Canada. Students completed annual assessments of social anxiety, social ties, and academic achievement for three consecutive years. The results from an autoregressive cross-lag path analysis indicated that social anxiety had a significant and negative direct relationship with academic achievement. Moreover, the negative indirect effect of social anxiety on academic achievement through social ties was significant, as was the opposing direction of effects (i.e., the indirect effect of academic achievement on social anxiety through social ties). These findings highlight the critical role that social ties appear to play in successful academic outcomes and in alleviating the effects of social anxiety during university/college.

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