Child Psychiatry & Human Development

, Volume 49, Issue 4, pp 672–679 | Cite as

The Influence of Social Communication Impairments on Gaze in Adolescents with Social Anxiety Disorder

  • Nicole N. Capriola-Hall
  • Andrea Trubanova Wieckowski
  • Thomas H. Ollendick
  • Susan W. White
Original Article


Adolescents with social anxiety disorder (SAD) often present distorted beliefs related to expected social rejection, coupled with avoidance of social stimuli including interpersonal interactions and others’ gaze. Social communication (SC) deficits, often seen in SAD, may play a role in avoidance of social stimuli. The present study evaluated whether SC impairment uniquely contributes to diminished or heightened attention to social stimuli. Gaze patterns to social stimuli were examined in a sample of 41 adolescents with SAD (12–16 years of age; 68% female). Unexpectedly, no significant relationship was observed between SC impairment and fixation duration to angry or neutral faces. However, SC impairment did predict greater fixation duration to happy faces, after controlling for social anxiety severity [adjusted R 2  = 0.201, F(2, 38) = 4.536, p = 0.018]. Clinical implications are discussed, focusing on the potential utility of targeting SC impairments directly in light of the role of SC difficulties in youth with SAD.


Social communication Social anxiety disorder Adolescents Eye-tracking Visual attention 



This work was supported by the National Institute of Mental Health, Grant R34 [PI: Ollendick].

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors have no conflicts of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

All study procedures were approved by the institutional review board for human subject research. All participants provided informed consent.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nicole N. Capriola-Hall
    • 1
  • Andrea Trubanova Wieckowski
    • 1
  • Thomas H. Ollendick
    • 1
  • Susan W. White
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Psychology (0436)Virginia TechBlacksburgUSA

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