Adolescents’ interpersonal cognition and self-appraisal of their own anxiety in an imagined anxiety-provoking classroom presentation scenario: Gender differences

Adolescents’ interpersonal cognition and self-appraisal of their own anxiety in an imagined anxiety-provoking classroom presentation scenario: Gender differences

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Klaus Ranta
Mauri Inkinen
Eero Laakkonen
Hanna-Riitta Ståhl
Niina Junttila
Päivi M. Niemi


Oral class presentations are regularly assigned to adolescents, but often provoke social anxiety, due to the importance of peer approval and need to appraise oneself as normal. Also, little is known about gender differences in girls’ and boys’ interpersonal cognition and appraisals of anxiety and self in anxiety-provoking speech situations. We examined gender differences in interpersonal cognition and appraisals of anxiety in an imagined class presentation scenario in a normative sample of 687 adolescents, 14-16-years-old, from Southwest Finland. Measures included the Classroom Questionnaire of Social Anxiety and Interpersonal Cognition and the Social Anxiety Scale for Adolescents. T-tests examined gender differences in interpersonal cognition, and chi-square tests examined adolescents’ appraisals of the likelihood of their own presentation anxiety and self as anxious. Girls more frequently reported positive, and less frequently reported negative, responses toward the depicted, anxious peer than boys. Also, a higher percentage of girls predicted that becoming anxious in the situation was likely, and non-acceptance of self as anxious was more frequent among girls. Boys predicted negative overt classmate reactions (e.g., laughing) towards the depicted, anxious peer, and towards themselves more frequently than did girls. Results are discussed in the context of gender-specific development and procedures for reducing adolescent social anxiety.


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