Relationship between Social Anxiety Symptoms and Behavioral Impairment in Adolescents: The Moderating Role of Perfectionism and Learning Motivation

Relationship between Social Anxiety Symptoms and Behavioral Impairment in Adolescents: The Moderating Role of Perfectionism and Learning Motivation

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Satoko Sasagawa
Cecilia A. Essau


Numerous studies have found that adolescents with social anxiety disorder experience greater difficulty in school adjustment and show higher dropout rates. Perfectionism and learning motivation are known to be significant predictors of academic achievement; these factors may enhance or diminish behavioral impairment within the school setting. The purpose of the present study was to examine the relationship between social anxiety, learning motivation, perfectionism, and behavioral impairment within a community sample of adolescents. Five hundred ninety-four German middle school students aged 12-17 years (mean age = 14.60, SD=1.64; 59.4% female) were recruited through their schools to respond to a questionnaire package consisting of Spence Children’s Anxiety Scale, the Child and Adolescent Perfectionism Scale, impact supplement of the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire, and intrinsic values subscale of Motivational Strategies for Learning Questionnaire. Results of correlational and multiple regression analysis showed that social anxiety symptoms were a significant predictor of distress and behavioral impairment, especially in friendship and classroom learning domains. It was shown that intrinsic learning motivation promotes classroom learning in students with high levels of social anxiety, whereas perfectionism interferes with domains outside the classroom, such as friendships and leisure activities. Limitations and implications for future research were discussed.


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