Social anxiety and self-compassion in adolescents

Ciara Gill, Lindsey Watson, Charlotte Williams, Wing Chan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Social anxiety disorder is a prevalent mental illness with a young onset age. Preliminary evidence suggested that low self-compassion may contribute to adult social anxiety, but research with youth has lagged far behind. This study investigated the relationship between self-compassion and social anxiety in adolescents. It also examined the mediating role of three cognitive mechanisms: fear of negative evaluation, self-focused attention, and cognitive avoidance.

A total of 316 adolescents (age 14-18, 54% male) recruited in Scotland, UK, completed 7 questionnaires. 
Self-compassion was inversely correlated with social anxiety with a large effect size (r = -.551). This was partially mediated by fear of negative evaluation and cognitive avoidance, but not self-focused attention. Self-compassion also predicted social anxiety above depression and anxiety symptoms. 
Our findings suggested that self-compassion could be an important factor in the development of social anxiety, and hence therapeutic techniques targeting self-compassion could potentially be beneficial in preventing or treating adolescent social anxiety.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)163-174
JournalJournal of Adolescence
Early online date13 Oct 2018
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018


  • self-compassion
  • social anxiety
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • mood disorders
  • adolescence


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