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BACKGROUND: The cognitive theory of social anxiety disorder (SAD) suggests that adults with SAD have a tendency to anticipate poor social performance and reflect negatively on their performance following a social event. While a number of studies with socially anxious adults have supported the role of poor performance anticipation and post-event rumination in SAD, to date, only a few studies have addressed whether this also applies to children with SAD. METHODS: Children (7-12 years) diagnosed with SAD (n = 40), other anxious children (n = 40) and non-anxious children (n = 34) were exposed to a social stressor speech task and their pre- and post-performance appraisals assessed, taking into account objective performance ratings. RESULTS: Although observers rated some aspects of performance as significantly worse among children with SAD than children with other anxiety disorders, children with SAD were not more likely than their anxious or non-anxious peers to show a general bias in pre- or post-performance appraisals. Furthermore, children with SAD were just as likely as their anxious and non-anxious peers to recognize good performance but were more critical of themselves when their performance was poor. LIMITATIONS: The speech task did not involve a same-age peer. Participants were relatively affluent group of predominantly non-minority status. Specificity for SAD in relation to other anxiety disorders remains unclear. CONCLUSIONS: Focusing on counteracting pre- and post-event social performance appraisals may potentially be inappropriate for childhood SAD. Children with SAD might benefit from interventions that focus on helping them to become less critical of themselves after social interactions have not gone well.

Original publication




Journal article


J Affect Disord

Publication Date





561 - 568


Anxiety disorders, CBT, Children, Post-event processing, Social anxiety disorder, Treatment, Anxiety Disorders, Child, Child Behavior, Fear, Female, Humans, Interpersonal Relations, Male, Peer Group, Performance Anxiety, Phobia, Social, Self-Assessment