Research into the etiology of social phobia has lagged far behind that of descriptive and maintaining factors. The current paper reviews data from a variety of sources that have some bearing on questions of the origins of social fears. Areas examined include genetic factors, temperament, childrearing, negative life events, and adverse social experiences. Epidemiological data are examined in detail and factors associated with social phobia such as cognitive distortions and social skills are also covered. The paper concludes with an initial model that draws together some of the current findings and aims to provide a platform for future research directions.