The concepts proposed by attachment theory have been very influential to the field of personality psychology. Over the years, many studies have supported the notion that mother-child attachment styles during childhood can impact future styles of behavior. Research conducted by Festa and Ginsburg (2011) examined the impact of parental and peer factors on the development of social anxiety amongst children. Further research conducted by Li and Chan (2012) examined the specific impact of anxiety and avoidant attachment styles on the development of cognitive, emotional, and behavioral indicators in determining the quality of romantic relationships amongst adults (Li & Chan, 2012).
Individuals that possess social anxiety disorder (SAD) experience overwhelming feelings of fear when put into social situations, leaving them distressed and inhibited (Festa and Ginsburg, 2011). There are many possible factors that can encourage the development of social anxiety disorder, some of which include parent-child relationships, parent anxiety, rejection, overcontrol, social acceptance, support by peers, and friendship quality. Of these factors, Festa and Ginsburg (2011) specifically observed:
The relative importance of parental (i.e., parental anxiety, rejection, and overcontrol) and peer factors (i.e., social acceptance, social support, and friendship quality) in children that have or are at risk of obtaining social anxiety disorder (Festa et al., 2011, p. 291).
A series of questionnaires and an interview were administered to 63 children and their biological parents. Of the 63 parents, twenty-six were diagnosed with some form of an anxiety disorder using the Anxiety Disorders Interview Schedule for DSM-IV (Festa et al., 2011). First, children were administered the Child Anxiety-Related Emotional Disorders (SCARED-C) questionnaire where responses were rated on a 3-point Likert-type scale. The State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI: trait version) was given to parents to determine their self-reported measures of social anxiety (Festa et al., 2011).
Children’s perceptions on parenting methods were measured using Egna Minnen Betraffande Uppfostran (EMBU-C) which consisted of a series of statements concerning their perceived parental overcontrol and rejection using a four- point Likert–type scale. Interactions between parents and their children were observed during an interview using the Five Minute Speech Task and Coding Manual (FMST) where each participant was assigned five minutes to prepare a speech about themselves while being recorded. The child then delivered the speech to an independent observer that recorded the amount of times parents displayed over controlling behaviors versus the amount of times parents permitted their child to handle this situation independently (Festa et al., 2011).
Overall, the presence of parental anxiety and validation from a friend revealed to be the strongest predictors of developing a social anxiety disorder in adolescence....