The etiology of social anxiety disorder: an evidence-based model

Susan H. Spence*, Ronald M. Rapee

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

234 Citations (Scopus)


The current paper presents an update to the model of social anxiety disorder (social phobia) published by Rapee and Spence (2004). It evaluates the research over the intervening 11 years and advances the original model in response to the empirical evidence. We review the recent literature regarding the impact of genetic and biological influences, temperament, cognitive factors, peer relationships, parenting, adverse life events and cultural variables upon the development of SAD. The paper draws together recent literature demonstrating the complex interplay between these variables, and highlights the many etiological pathways. While acknowledging the considerable progress in the empirical literature, the significant gaps in knowledge are noted, particularly the need for further longitudinal research to clarify causal pathways, and moderating and mediating effects. The resulting model will be valuable in informing the design of more effective treatment and preventive interventions for SAD and will provide a useful platform to guide future research directions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)50-67
Number of pages18
JournalBehaviour Research and Therapy
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2016


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