Trained Observers’ Ratings of Adolescents’ Social Anxiety and Social Skills within Controlled, Cross-Contextual Social Interactions with Unfamiliar Peer Confederates
Adolescents at a high-risk for experiencing social anxiety display elevated distress and social skills deficits in social interactions with unfamiliar peers. However, not all adolescents find the same interactions distressing, necessitating an approach that is sensitive to key aspects of the social contexts in which interactions manifest. Along these lines, socially anxious adolescents may display significant impairments within interactions with unfamiliar peers, and yet a core challenge in clinical assessment involves simulating social interactions with unfamiliar peers. Recent work suggests that one can construct cross-contextual interaction tasks using personnel trained to resemble unfamiliar same-age peers. This study examined the psychometric properties of independent observers’ ratings of adolescents’ social anxiety and social skills within these tasks. Eighty-nine adolescents (M = 14.50 years; 30 clinic-referred; 59 community control) and their parents completed reports of adolescent social anxiety on parallel surveys. Adolescents participated in a series of counterbalanced tasks with trained unfamiliar peer confederates. These tasks assessed adolescents’ reactions to interactions with unfamiliar peers within unstructured versus structured social contexts. Two trained observers independently completed behavioral ratings of adolescents using a well-established coding system, and peer confederates completed survey reports about social anxiety for the adolescents with whom they interacted. Observers’ ratings related to informants’ survey reports of adolescent social anxiety and social skills. Observers’ ratings distinguished adolescents on referral status. Observers rated adolescents’ social anxiety highest and social skills lowest during unstructured social contexts, relative to structured social contexts. These findings have important implications for constructing evidence-based, cross-contextual behavioral assessments of adolescents’ social anxiety.
KeywordsAdolescence Behavioral assessment Social anxiety Social skills Unfamiliar peers
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of Interest
Lara E. Glenn, Lauren M. Keeley, Sebastian Szollos, Hide Okuno, Xuechun Wang, Erica Rausch, Danielle E. Deros, Jeremy N. Karp, Noor Qasmieh, Bridget A. Makol, Tara M. Augenstein, Melanie F. Lipton, Sarah J. Racz, Lindsay Scharfstein, Deborah C. Beidel and Andres De Los Reyes declare that they have no conflict of interest.
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the University of Maryland at College Park’s Institutional Review Board declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants in the study.
- Beidel, D. C., Alfano, C. A., Kofler, M. J., Rao, P. A., Scharfstein, L., & Sarver, N. W. (2014). The impact of social skills training for social anxiety disorder: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 28, 908–918. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.janxdis.2014.09.016.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Cohen, J. (1988). Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences (2nd ed.). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
- Curran, J. P. (1982). A procedure for the assessment of social skills: The Simulated Social Interaction Test. In J. P. Curran & P. M. Monti (Eds.), Social skills training: A practical handbook for assessment and treatment (pp. 348–373). New York, NY: Guilford.Google Scholar
- De Los Reyes, A., Aldao, A., Thomas, S. A., Daruwala, S., Swan, A. J., Van Wie, M., . . . & Lechner, W. V. (2012). Adolescent self-reports of social anxiety: Can they disagree with objective psychophysiological measures and still be valid?. Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, 34, 308–322. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10862-012-9289-2.
- De Los Reyes, A., Thomas, S. A., Goodman, K. L., & Kundey, S. M. A. (2013a). Principles underlying the use of multiple informants’ reports. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, 9, 123–149. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-clinpsy-050212-185617.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- De Los Reyes, A., Bunnell, B. E., & Beidel, D. C. (2013b). Informant discrepancies in adult social anxiety disorder assessments: Links with contextual variations in observed behavior. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 122, 376–386. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0031150.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- De Los Reyes, A., Augenstein, T. M., Wang, M., Thomas, S. A., Drabick, D. A. G., Burgers, D. E., & Rabinowitz, J. (2015). The validity of the multi-informant approach to assessing child and adolescent mental health. Psychological Bulletin, 141, 858–900. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0038498.
- Deros, D. E., Racz, S. J., Lipton, M. F., Augenstein, T. M., Karp, J. N., Keeley, L. M., . . . De Los Reyes, A. (2018). Multi-informant assessments of adolescent social anxiety: Adding clarity by leveraging reports from unfamiliar peer confederates. Behavior Therapy, 49, 84–98. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.beth.2017.05.001.
- Grant, B. F., Hasin, D. S., Blanco, C., Stinson, F. S., Chou, S. P., Goldstein, R. B., . . . Huang, B. (2005). The epidemiology of social anxiety disorder in the United States: Results from the National Epidemiologic Survey on alcohol and related conditions. The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 66, 1351–1361. https://doi.org/10.4088/JCP.v66n1102.
- Hofmann, S. G., Albano, A. M., Heimberg, R. G., Tracey, S., Chorpita, B. F., & Barlow, D. H. (1999). Subtypes of social phobia in adolescents. Depression and Anxiety, 9, 15–18. https://doi.org/10.1002/(SICI)1520-6394(1999)9:1<15::AID-DA2>3.0.CO;2-6.
- Ingersoll, G. M. (1989). Adolescents (2nd ed.). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
- Karp, J. N., Makol, B. A., Keeley, L. M., Qasmieh, N., Deros, D. E., Racz, S. J., . . . De Los Reyes, A. (2018). Convergent, incremental, and criterion-related validity of multi-informant assessments of adolescents' fears of negative and positive evaluation. Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1002/cpp.2156.
- Keeley, L. M., Makol, B. A., Qasmieh, N., Deros, D. E., Karp, J. N., Lipton, M. F., . . . De Los Reyes, A. (2018). Validity of adolescent and parent reports on the six-item ADHD Self-Report Scale (ASRS-6) in clinical assessments of adolescent social anxiety. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 27, 1041–1053. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10826-017-0950-y.
- Kessler, R. C., Berglund, P., Demler, O., Jin, R., Merikangas, K. R., & Walters, E. E. (2005). Lifetime prevalence and age-of-onset distributions of DSM-IV disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication. Archives of General Psychiatry, 62, 593–602. https://doi.org/10.1001/archpsyc.62.6.593.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Kessler, R. C., Petukhova, M., Sampson, N. A., Zaslavsky, A. M., & Wittchen, H. U. (2012). Twelve-month and lifetime prevalence and lifetime morbid risk of anxiety and mood disorders in the United States. International Journal of Methods in Psychiatric Research, 21, 169–184. https://doi.org/10.1002/mpr.1359.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Lang, P. J. (1980). Behavioral treatment and bio-behavioral assessment: Computer applications. In J. B. Sidowski, J. H. Johnson, & T. A. Williams (Eds.), Technology in mental health care delivery systems (pp. 119–137). Norwood, NJ: Ablex.Google Scholar
- Lipton, M. F., Augenstein, T. M., Weeks, J. W., & De Los Reyes, A. (2014). A multi-informant approach to assessing fear of positive evaluation in socially anxious adolescents. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 23, 1247–1257. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10826-013-9785-3
- Qasmieh, N., Makol, B. A., Augenstein, T. M., Lipton, M. F., Deros, D. E., Karp, J. N., . . . De Los Reyes, A. (2018). A multi-informant approach to assessing safety behaviors among adolescents: Psychometric properties of the Subtle Avoidance Frequency Examination. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 27. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10826-018-1040-5.
- Rausch, E., Racz, S. J., Augenstein, T. M., Keeley, L., Lipton, M. F., Szollos, S., . . . & De Los Reyes, A. (2017). A multi-informant approach to measuring depressive symptoms in clinical assessments of adolescent social anxiety using the Beck Depression Inventory-II: Convergent, incremental, and criterion-related validity. Child and Youth Care Forum, 46, 661–683. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10566-017-9403-4.
- Scharfstein, L. A., Beidel, D. C., Sims, V. K., & Finnell, L. R. (2011). Social skills deficits and vocal characteristics of children with social phobia or Asperger’s disorder: A comparative study. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 39, 865–875. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10802-011-9498-2.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Thomas, S. A., Daruwala, S. E., Goepel, K. A., & De Los Reyes, A. (2012). Using the Subtle Avoidance Frequency Examination in adolescent social anxiety assessments. Child and Youth Care Forum, 41, 547–559. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10566-012-9181-y.
- Turner, S. M., Beidel, D. C., Cooley, M. R., Woody, S. R., & Messer, S. C. (1994). A multicomponent behavioral treatment for social phobia: Social Effectiveness Therapy. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 32, 381–390. https://doi.org/10.1016/0005-7967(94)90001-9.
- Zubeidat, I., Salinas, J. M., & Sierra, J. C. (2008). Exploration of the psychometric characteristics of the Liebowitz Social Anxiety Scale in a Spanish adolescent sample. Depression and Anxiety, 25, 977–987. https://doi.org/10.1002/da.20404.