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.

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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