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, 51 (1), 44-58

The Developmental Psychopathology of Social Anxiety Disorder


The Developmental Psychopathology of Social Anxiety Disorder

Thomas H Ollendick et al. Biol Psychiatry.


The role of developmental theory and developmental psychopathology in understanding the development, maintenance, and course of social anxiety disorder (SAD) is explored in this article. Following a brief examination of the phenomenology of SAD in youth, we provide an overview of the tenets of developmental psychology and developmental psychopathology, including the principles of equifinality (i.e., the same outcome can result from diverse developmental pathways) and multifinality (i.e., the same risk factor can lead to or result in different outcomes). We review various pathways for the acquisition and maintenance of SAD (e.g., genetic and temperamental influences, parental factors, conditioning or learning experiences, peer influences, and cognitive styles) and conclude, consistent with a developmental psychopathology perspective, that multiple pathways to SAD exist and that the various precursors to SAD do not invariably lead to SAD. We suggest that specificity in outcome is afforded by the combination, timing, and circumstances surrounding these various risk factors. Finally, we propose studies to test the viability of the developmental psychopathology model in understanding SAD.

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