Mentalizing (MZ) is defined as the capacity to perceive the intentional mental states (IMS) that underpin human behavior. The ability to "read" what is beyond behavior is essential for mental health and wellbeing. Social anxiety (SA) is defined as the fear of social interaction and of being negatively evaluated by others. People with SA tend to expect that others will be critical and they will assess them negatively. This cognitive characteristic of SA can be understood and conceptualized as a problem of MZ. Although the role of MZ in several disorders such as BPD or depression has been analyzed in the last decades, up to now, SA has received relatively little attention. The aim of the present study is to analyze whether MZ problems are associated with SA from a developmental perspective, and from a multi-informant and multi-method perspective. To do this, SA has been assessed in infancy (i. e. , behavioral inhibition or BI) and in adolescence, and several dimensions of MZ and depression levels have been measured in two samples of 463 and 267 adolescents from the general population. Results indicate that MZ problems are associated with early SA (i. e. , BI in infancy) and adolescent SA. The MZ impairment is multidimensional, as predicted, and affects the reading of both one's own and others' mental states, and suggests problems of both hipo- and hiper-mentalizing. The complexity of the relationship between MZ and SA suggests a possible bidirectional association and requires further research. The role of MZ in the development and maintenance of SA suggests important implications for treatment strategies and for the long-term results of intervention.
|Date of Award||23 Nov 2016|
|Supervisor||Sergi Ballespí Solà (Director) & Jaume Vives Brosa (Director)|