Emotional Abuse and Adolescents’ Social Anxiety: the Roles of Self-Esteem and Loneliness

Abstract

While emotional abuse has effects on social anxiety, little is known about mechanisms of this relationship, particularly in China. To address this gap, this cross-sectional study estimated mediating roles of self-esteem and loneliness in the relationship between emotional abuse and social anxiety in Chinese culture. 569 adolescents and pre-adolescents (aged between 10 and 15 years, M = 11.68, SD = 0.83; 50.62% boys) completed a series of questionnaires inquiring about emotional abuse, social anxiety, loneliness, and self-esteem. Structural equation modeling was used to examine mediating roles of self-esteem and loneliness in the relationship between emotional abuse and social anxiety. The results revealed that emotional abuse was positively associated with social anxiety and loneliness (r = .36, .29, respectively, p < .01), while it was negatively associated with self-esteem (r = − .22, p < .01). Mediational models testing indirect effects through the bootstrapping method revealed that the total effect of emotional abuse on social anxiety was positive and significant; this effect was mediated by self-esteem and loneliness. Findings suggest that loneliness and self-esteem mediates the relationship between emotional abuse and social anxiety. Decreasing loneliness and increasing self-esteem should be applied in interventions to reduce social anxiety of emotionally abused Chinese adolescents and pre-adolescents.

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Chen, C., Qin, J. Emotional Abuse and Adolescents’ Social Anxiety: the Roles of Self-Esteem and Loneliness. J Fam Viol 35, 497–507 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10896-019-00099-3

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Keywords

  • Emotional abuse
  • Social anxiety
  • Self-esteem
  • Loneliness
  • Mediating effect