Adolescents at risk for social and test anxiety. Who are at risk and how can we help?

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The fear of negative evaluation by others plays a central role in social and test anxiety. These anxiety disorders often develop early in adolescence, have a chronic course and are associated with social isolation, substance abuse and depression. The prevention and early intervention of symptoms of social and test anxiety are thus of the utmost importance.

Esther Sportel investigated the effectiveness of two training methods, both aiming to reduce symptoms of social and test anxiety. 1800 adolescents, aged 12-14 years, were screened. This resulted in the selection of 240 individuals with mild to moderate symptoms of social and test anxiety to participate in the study. They received Cognitive Bias Modification (CBM), Cognitive Behavioural Training in a group (CBT), or participated in the control group. The follow-up period was two years. Compared to the control group, CBT showed to be effective in reducing test anxiety in the short and long term. For social anxiety CBT was only effective in the short term. CBM was effective in reducing test anxiety in the long term. In conclusion, offering CBT in schools is recommended as a method for reducing test anxiety symptoms. Furthermore, Sportel investigated risk factors for developing symptoms of anxiety, i.e., the temperamental factors attentional control, behavioural inhibition and the fight-flight-freeze-system. Despite all factors are associated with symptoms of anxiety, symptoms of anxiety themselves turned out to be the best predictor for anxiety after two years. The investigated risk factors had no unique additive value in the prediction of anxiety.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • University of Groningen
  • Minderaa, R B, Supervisor
  • de Jong, Peter, Supervisor
  • Nauta, Maaike, Co-supervisor
Award date29-May-2013
Place of Publication[S.l.]
Print ISBNs9789036760577
Electronic ISBNs9789036760560
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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