Niina JunttilaMarja VaurasPäivi M. NiemiEero Laakkonen

Multisource assessed social competence as a predictor for children’s and adolescents’ later loneliness, social anxiety, and social phobia


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The aim is to present the psychometric properties of a multisource scale measuring children’s and adolescents’ self-, peer-, and teacher-evaluated social competence and, further, to study whether these evaluations predict later psychosocial ill-being consisting of loneliness, social anxiety, and social phobia. Sample 1 consisted of 318 Finnish elementary school children, who in the beginning were fourth graders (approximately 10 years old). Sample 2 consisted of 191 adolescents who in the beginning were seventh graders (approximately 13 years old) in lower secondary school. The self, peer and teacher ratings of the participants’ social competence were collected in the fourth and seventh grades. Further, their loneliness, social anxiety, and social phobia were evaluated a year later, i.e., in the fifth and eighth grades. The factor structure of the scales was validated with separate CFA models and the consistency between the raters evaluated with Pearson correlations. Based on the results of structural equation modeling, children’s negative self-images of their pro- and antisocial behaviour during fourth grade predicted higher levels of loneliness and social anxiety during fifth grade. On the other hand, for lower secondary school adolescents, the peer and teacher ratings of adolescents’ social competence during the seventh grade predicted loneliness, social anxiety, and social phobia during eighth grade. The importance of recognizing the early signs of possible problems in children’s and adolescents’ socio-emotional well-being, before the onset of more sever psychosocial problems, is discussed.

Social competence; Loneliness; Social anxiety; Social phobia