The goal of the present study was to empirically examine different conceptual mechanisms previously postulated to underlie the development of social avoidance in childhood. Participants were N = 601 children (321 boys, 280 girls) attending elementary schools (Mage = 10.21 years) and middle schools (Mage = 12.77 years) in Shanghai, P.R. China. Measures of motivations for social withdrawal (shyness, unsociability, social avoidance) and socio-emotional adjustment were collected using self-reports and peer nominations at two time-points separated by 9 months. Results from cross-lagged panel analyses indicated that: (1) social avoidance and symptoms of social anxiety were not reciprocally related over time; (2) Time 1 social avoidance predicted incremental change in Time 2 peer problems (whereas Time 1 peer problems did not predict incremental change in Time 2 social avoidance); and (3) Time 1 symptoms of depression significantly predicted incremental change in Time 2 social avoidance (whereas Time 1 social avoidance did not predict incremental change in Time 2 symptoms of depression). These results provide evidence in support of depressive symptoms (but not symptoms of social anxiety or peer problems) as a salient predictor of social avoidance. Results are discussed in terms of the development and implications of social avoidance in Chinese culture.

Depression, Peer problems, Social anxiety, Social avoidance, Social withdrawal
Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology
Department of Psychology

Ding, X. (Xuechen), Coplan, R, Deng, X. (Xinmei), Ooi, L.L. (Laura L.), Li, D. (Dan), & Sang, B. (Biao). (2018). Sad, Scared, or Rejected? A Short-Term Longitudinal Study of the Predictors of Social Avoidance in Chinese Children. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology. doi:10.1007/s10802-018-0476-9