Clin Psychol Rev. 2003 Nov;23(6):761-86.


The etiology of social phobia: toward a developmental profile.

Neal JA, Edelmann RJ.

School of Psychology and Counselling, Whitelands College, University of Surrey Roehampton, West Hill, SW15 3SN, London, UK. j.neal@roehampton.ac.uk

Social phobia is an extremely disruptive and distressing anxiety disorder that can impact on many areas of an individual's life. Yet, despite the fact that lifetime prevalence rates are relatively high, its etiology is still poorly understood. The aim of this review is to draw together findings from the broad base of nonclinical literature associated with behavioral inhibition (BI), shyness, social anxiety, and passive-anxious withdrawal and to compare these findings with those from the limited number of clinical studies with social phobics. Such comparison is not unproblematic due to conceptual differences between terms used and methodological divergence; these issues are discussed in some detail. The consonance of findings, however, suggests a viable profile for the developmental course of social phobia. This profile incorporates temperament variables, behavioral motivational, parenting styles, peer relationships, and internalization problems. Finally, specific suggestions for future research are offered