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Child Dev. 2019 Jul;90(4):1424-1441. doi: 10.1111/cdev.13248. Epub 2019 May 16.

Are Socially Anxious Children Poor or Advanced Mindreaders?

Author information

1
University of Amsterdam.
2
Erasmus University Rotterdam.
3
Stanford University.

Abstract

Why are some children more socially anxious than others? One theory holds that socially anxious children are poor mindreaders, which hampers their social interactions; another that socially anxious children are advanced mindreaders leading to heightened self-consciousness in social situations. To test these theories simultaneously, this study (N = 105, ages 8-12) assessed children's mindreading (accuracy in detecting mental states from the eye region), self-consciousness (indexed as physiological blushing during public performance), and social anxiety levels. Results support both theories, showing a quadratic relation between mindreading and social anxiety. Low mindreading was related to clinical levels of social anxiety. High mindreading was related to subclinical levels of social anxiety through blushing. Our findings suggest two social-cognitive pathways to heightened social anxiety.

PMID:
31099053
DOI:
10.1111/cdev.13248

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