Title: Childhood inhibition predicts adolescent social anxiety: Findings from a longitudinal twin study
Legend: In an attempt to identify developmental processes that explain how childhood characteristics progress to maladaptive forms, we examined the role that behavioral inhibition (BI) has on social anxiety (SA) in 868 families of twins assessed at ages 8, 13, and 15 years. Multimodal assessments of BI and SA were completed at each phase. In analyses not shown, genetic factors partially mediated the effect of childhood BI on adolescent SA.
In multilevel phenotypic models, significant main effects were as follows:
- BI (Est. = .572)
- parenting stress (Est. = .183)
- father internalizing (Est. = .110), and
- over-protective parenting (Est. = .103)
Social anxiety was generally higher when each of these variables was also higher.
Adolescents experiencing lower peer victimization at age 13 had slightly lower SA than those experiencing higher rates of peer victimization (Est. = .037); the same relation was not found by age 15.
Parenting stress moderated the effects of BI on social anxiety (Est. = .398) in a model with all potential moderators, many of which also moderated the effect when tested singly. These patterns of environmental moderation were specific to SA and not other forms of psychopathology.
This work continues to build the prototype for developmental psychopathology models involving early temperament.
Citation: Goldsmith, H. H., Hilton, E. C., Phan, J. M., Sarkisian, K. L., Carroll, I. C., Lemery-Chalfant, K., & Planalp, E. M. (2022). Childhood inhibition predicts adolescent social anxiety: Findings from a longitudinal twin study. Development and psychopathology, 1–20. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0954579422000864
Abstract: An enduring issue in the study of mental health is identifying developmental processes that explain how childhood characteristics progress to maladaptive forms. We examine the role that behavioral inhibition (BI) has on social anxiety (SA) during adolescence in 868 families of twins assessed at ages 8, 13, and 15 years. Multimodal assessments of BI and SA were completed at each phase, with additional measures (e.g., parenting stress) for parents and twins. Analyses were conducted in several steps: first, we used a cross-lagged panel model to demonstrate bidirectional paths between BI and SA; second a biometric Cholesky decomposition showed that both genetic and environmental influences on childhood BI also affect adolescent SA; next, multilevel phenotypic models tested moderation effects between BI and SA. We tested seven potential moderators of the BI to SA prediction in individual models and included only those that emerged as significant in a final conditional model examining predictors of SA. Though several main effects emerged as significant, only parenting stress had a significant interaction with BI to predict SA, highlighting the importance of environmental moderators in models examining temperamental effects on later psychological symptoms. This comprehensive assessment continues to build the prototype for such developmental psychopathology models.
Keywords: behavior inhibition; genetics; parenting; social anxiety; twins.
About the Lab: The Wisconsin Twin Research lab’s research concerns children’s emotional development, behavioral challenges, and the autism spectrum. The research incorporates perspectives of psychology, genetics, neuroscience, and developmental epidemiology. He is recognized as a leading theorist of human temperament and a key empirical contributor to the fields of developmental behavioral genetics and childhood psychopathology. Goldsmith is principal investigator on six external grants, an investigator in three centers, and a faculty member on three training grants. His highly collaborative research involves many UW faculty and colleagues at other institutions.
Investigator: H. Hill Goldsmith, PhD
Contributing Scientist: Elizabeth M. Planalp, PhD