Peer social support, self-efficacy beliefs and social anxiety in adolescence : a test of competing models
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Peer relationships become increasingly important during adolescence. Adolescents spend more time with their peers and begin to select their own friend groups on the basis of intimacy and support. As such, it is clear that social support form peers is critically important. Although it is evident that peer sources of social support are critical during this time period, often times, the unique contributions of different peer sources, such as classmates and close friends, is not investigated. Despite this, the literature suggests that different peer sources of support are associated with different social-emotional outcomes, demonstrating a gap in the literature. One outcome commonly associated with social support is social anxiety. Social anxiety is described as the intense feelings of fear, worry and apprehension that occur within the context of social relationships. Many of the cognitive behavioral models of social anxiety emphasize the role of self-efficacy in the development and maintenance of social anxiety. The current study aimed to extend the literature examining these three constructs by examining the associations among social support, self-efficacy and social anxiety in adolescence. Specifically, the current study examined two competing mediation models. The first model investigated whether self-efficacy perceptions may explain the associations between social support from peer sources and social anxiety. The second alternative model investigated whether social support from peer sources may explain the associations between self-efficacy beliefs and social anxiety. The results indicated support for both models, with significant gender differences emerging. For girls, both models were supported. For boys, social support from classmates mediated the association between social self-efficacy and social anxiety.