The reciprocal relations between experiential avoidance and social anxiety among early adolescents: A prospective cohort study

Yoshiyuki Shimoda, Kenichiro Ishizu, & Tomu Ohtsuki

Empirical research studies have revealed the relations between experiential avoidance and the tendency to suffer from social anxiety among adult samples. In addition, interpersonal problems can be risk factors for mental health problems or maladjustment to school; however, the links have not been investigated among early adolescents. In this study, we examined the reciprocal relations between experiential avoidance and social anxiety tendency among junior high school students. The responses of 660 Japanese junior high school students (313 boys and 347 girls, seventh to ninth grade, aged 12–15 years) to the Japanese short version of the Avoidance and Fusion Questionnaire for Youth and the Japanese version of the Social Anxiety Scale for Adolescents were collected at three time-points with approximately four-month intervals between them. Cross-lagged path analyses revealed that a prior tendency for social anxiety tendency positively later affected a slight increase in experiential avoidance at each time-point. In contrast, experiential avoidance did not significantly predict a later social anxiety tendency at any time-points. Therefore, the findings indicate that a social anxiety tendency can be a risk factor for enhanced experiential avoidance among early adolescents. These results can provide useful information for designing prevention and intervention plans for acceptance and commitment therapy for youths.

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