The role of cognitive factors in childhood social anxiety: social threat thoughts and social skills perception

Rianne E. van Niekerk*, Anke M. Klein, Esther Allart-van Dam, Jennifer L. Hudson, Mike Rinck, Giel J M Hutschemaekers, Eni S. Becker

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    21 Citations (Scopus)
    22 Downloads (Pure)


    Models of cognitive processing in anxiety disorders state that socially anxious children display several distorted cognitive processes that maintain their anxiety. The present study investigated the role of social threat thoughts and social skills perception in relation to childhood trait and state social anxiety. In total, 141 children varying in their levels of social anxiety performed a short speech task in front of a camera and filled out self-reports about their trait social anxiety, state anxiety, social skills perception and social threat thoughts. Results showed that social threat thoughts mediated the relationship between trait social anxiety and state anxiety after the speech task, even when controlling for baseline state anxiety. Furthermore, we found that children with higher trait anxiety and more social threat thoughts had a lower perception of their social skills, but did not display a social skills deficit. These results provide evidence for the applicability of the cognitive social anxiety model to children.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)489–497
    Number of pages9
    JournalCognitive Therapy and Research
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2017

    Bibliographical note

    Copyright the Author(s) 2016. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


    • social anxiety
    • social threat thoughts
    • social skills
    • speech task
    • children


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