Adolescence is a period of development that involves social transition that helps in shaping a new and more complex social environment. The rise of peer relationship is one of the most important transitions that happen during adolescence. Also, peers begin to be the primary source of adolescents’ social support and they contribute to adolescents’ self-concept and well-being (La Greca & Davila, 2008). It is also that stage of learning and practicing a variety of social skills, including, cooperation, persuasion, compromise, emotional control, and conflict. La Greca and Harrison (2005) stated that peer relationship plays an important role in children’s and adolescent’s personal and social development. Furthermore, peer relationships are important in increasing the adolescents’ independence from family influences and help them in facilitating their personal identity (La Greca & Lopez, 1998).
Peer relationships also face difficulties that contribute to maladaptive emotional functioning and this includes the development of social anxiety in adolescents (De Los Reyes & Prinstein, 2004). Erath, Flanagan, and Bierman (2007) have stated the rates of social anxiety begins to climb significantly during adolescence. Mancini, van Ameringen, Bennett, Patterson, and Wattson, (2005), stated that social anxiety involves an excessive fear of interpersonal scrutiny and the associated potential for embarrassment or humiliation. It is also associated with the perception that an individual can be evaluated negatively by others in a social context. Previous researchers have shown that adolescents who are socially anxious tends to have a low self-esteem and they tends to evaluate their behavior negatively. They also have the tendency to display sign of avoidance in stressful performance situations and to withdraw from peer interactions. According to Blote and Westenberg (2007), adolescents who are socially anxious has a tendency to be least liked by their peers and they have fewer chances to build positive relationships with their peers.
A number of studies have examined the connections between adolescents’ peer relationships and internalizing aspects such as social anxiety. Previous researchers have examined the different dimensions of peer relationships, such as peer victimization, peer rejection, peer acceptance, friendship quality, and peer attachment. In fact, researchers have been established the relationship between peer victimization with negative outcomes such as social anxiety. It was supported by Siegel, La Greca, and Harrison (2009) wherein they found that higher levels of peer victimization resulted into higher levels of social anxiety. Furthermore, peer rejection is also linked to social anxiety. Sentse, Lindenberg, Omulee, Ormel, and Veenstra (2010) stated that when the level of peer rejection is high it promotes insecure attachment towards their peers that contributes to the higher level of social anxiety. Lastly, peer acceptance is also associated with social anxiety. For instance, in a study conducted by Teachman and Allen (2007), the findings showed that lower perceived social acceptance is a predictor of social anxiety and fear of negative evaluation.
On that extent, researchers proved that there is a clear connection between peer victimization, peer rejection and peer acceptance to social anxiety. This study builds on and extends prior research by investigating the role friendship quality and peer attachment, another dimension of peer relationships, to social anxiety among adolescents.
Parker, Rubin, Erath, Wojslawowicz, & Buskirk (2006) emphasized the importance of peer groups and friendships for adolescents. It is the period of development wherein they experience strong desires for personal validation through the help of interpersonal intimacy and thus, researchers gain interest to study the links between peer relationships on adolescents ’socialization and psychological well-being. The primary goal of the current study is to investigate distinct dimensions of peer relationships, friendship quality and peer attachment and their role in social anxiety among adolescents. It is important to distinguish dimensions of peer relationships because they can afford unique contributions to social anxiety and have different implications for interventions (La Greca & Harrison, 2005).
Review of Related Literature
Contemporary Interpersonal Theory (Keisler, 1996), propose that children and adolescents that are having difficulties when it comes to relating with their peer groups would be at risk to social anxiety. In shaping empathy, perspective taking and self-perception, friendship was thought to play a particularly important role. The theory emphasizes the contribution of interpersonal relationship in altering inappropriate patterns of relatedness, patterns shaped by current and past experiences of social anxiety, insecurity, and avoidance. In other words, this theory states that the high or low level of social anxiety will depend on the early environment of an individual.
Furthermore, the theory proposes that every relationship has an impact on communication, motivation, and interaction with every person. Therefore, when an individual is experiencing interpersonal problems, it can lead to disengagement from the social network that could result in anxiety and isolation. This theory states that in every relationship it is possible to transform an immature preadolescent into a psychologically healthy adolescent and it also emphasizes that society is the actual creator of an individuals’ personalities. In addition, an individual does not exist as a simple personality; its personality can only exist in relation to others. Moreover, a person’s formative period of development is important to the personality. The personality of a person will be maladjusted if he or she grow up in an unstable environment.
There are several studies that have used Contemporary Interpersonal Theory as the theoretical foundation. The theory has proved that it is influential in terms of the study about the friendships of children’s (Furman, Simon, Shaffer, & Bouchey, 2002), it is also helpful in understanding loneliness contribution to the motivational force in development and maladjustment (Asher & Paquette, 2003). In the study of Goodearl, Salzinger, and Rosario (2014) have found that influence of peers can be either a positive or negative. They believe that peer itself could have a protective function for at-risk youths.
Furthermore, Anderson and Harvey (1998) stated that the unpleasant experiences with peers during childhood and adolescence plays a special role in the emergent of social anxiety. Vernberg, Abwender, Ewell, and Beery (1992) have agreed with that and they have confirmed that the degree of companionship and intimacy in friendships and the frequency of rejection experience would change over time the level of social anxiety. The results of the findings of Inderbiten, Walters, and Bukowski (1997) and La Greca and Harrison (2005) were also consistent. They have also found that the negative peer experiences such as peer rejection could lead to social withdrawal and social anxiety.
During adolescence, the importance of peer relationship increases resulting in the changes in the individuals, social norms, and context. Also, peers begin to be the primary source of influence on adolescents’ attitudes, activities, and emotional well-being (Brown & Larson, 2009). They also give too much importance to the expectation and opinion of their peers, which to some extent affects their decisions and actions (Berndt & Murphy, 2002). Hall-Lande, Eisenberg, Christenson, and Neumark-Sztainer (2007) stated that when an individual has a good relationship with their peers it can increase their social competence. It can also lead to a higher level of motivation and make their school involvement becomes more active that results into an improved school performance. It also results in a lower level of behavioral problems and it increases the level of self-worth and improved leadership skills.
For such reason, researchers gain interests in examining peer relationships. Several types of research have been conducted about peer relationship and its effect on the different developmental areas. Boiling, Barry, Kotchick, and Lowry (2011) have studied the contribution of peer relationship to the individuals’ social competence. They have found that the relationship with peers enhances social skills and results to social competence. Furthermore, Contreras, Kerns, Weimer, Genztler, and Tomich (2000) added that peer relationship can help to improve the capacity of an individual to regulate his emotion. Goodearll, Salzinger, and Rosario (2014), have also added that the role of peers in the community adaptation is different in predicting aggression and anxiety. This is contrary to the findings of La Greca and Harrison (2005), where they have found that relations with peers have a strong link with social anxiety.
With those findings of the effects of a peer relationship, the researchers didn’t stop with that. They have also explored the different dimensions of peer relationships including peer victimization, peer rejection, peer acceptance, peer attachment, and friendship quality in relation to different developmental areas.
Adolescence is the stage of development where competence with peers influences adolescents attitudes, activities, and emotional well-being (Brown & Larson, 2009). When interpersonal relationships increases, negative peer experiences also increases and become a problem for adolescents (Hawker & Boulton, 2000). An example of negative experience is peer victimization. Hawker and Boulton (2000) define peer victimization as the experience of being the target of the aggressive behavior of others. Seeley, Tombari, Bennett, Dunkle (2009) have proved the peer victimization can lead to negative behavior such as low self-esteem, school avoidance, low school engagement, learned helplessness, lower school achievement, and depression.
Siegel, La Greca, and Harrison (2009) and Erath, Flanagan, and Bierman (2007) examined the connection between peer victimization and social anxiety among older adolescents. Their study reveals that when the level of peer victimization is high, it will also result in a high level of social anxiety. Furthermore, Cole Maxwell, Dukewich, and Yosick (2010) added that those individuals who have experience peer victimization also exhibit depressive symptoms.
In line with those research, Flanagan, Erath, and Bierman (2008) has examined the link between social anxiety and peer victimization and nominations. They have found that when the maladaptive social behavior and negative social appraisal is high, it is associated with a high level of social anxiety. And they have shown that peer victimization and positive peer nominations are connected with social anxiety. Associations among individual vulnerabilities and peer relations are also closely linked.
This dimension of peer relationship has been already examined in relation to social anxiety. Previous researchers have verified that there is a relationship between peer victimization and social anxiety.
Another dimension of peer relationship is peer rejection. Peer rejection is a negative aspect of peer relationship. When an individual is excluded from a social relationship or interaction, peer rejection happens. Being rejected by peers can make an adolescent feel lonely, depress or anxious. Peer relationships can be exploitive and destructive. A person can be rejected by individuals or an entire group of people. Bhambri and Sharma (2015) have stated that peer rejection exists in different forms such as by bullying, teasing, ridiculing, or by ignoring the person or giving the “silent treatment”.
If the incident of rejection is consistent and if the person is sensitive when it comes to rejection, peer rejection can become a problem. Williams, Forgas and von Hippel (2005), stated that rejection have negative effects, and specifically it could lead to social isolation. Experiencing rejection can lead to numerous adverse psychological consequences such as loneliness, low self-esteem, aggression, and depression (McDougall, Hymel, Vaillancourt, & Mercer, 2001).
Johnson, Coie, Gremaud, Lockman and Terry (1999), revealed that rejection and aggression towards peers in childhood is linked to each other. The interpersonal outcomes of an individual are found to be affected by the combination of peer rejection and aggression. They have also found that there’s a difference when it comes to gender. The processing of the feeling that is being rejected varies. When boys experienced rejection by their peers, it results in a serious negative interpersonal outcome. While, peer rejection on girls are not linked with any negative personal outcome, but still it affects their aggression.
Reijntjes, Thomaes, Bushman, Boelen, de Castro and Telch (2010) have examined the link between rejection and aggression and whether alienation can moderate the effect. Their study revealed that when children have experience rejection they become more aggressive, compare to those accepted children. It only means that peer rejection plays an important role in youth aggression.
Sentse, Lindenberg, Omulee, Ormel, and Veenstra (2010) examined if the externalizing and internalizing problems of an individual that is in the stage of the early adolescent can be affected by peer rejection. They have revealed that the high level of externalizing and internalizing behaviors was associated with peer rejection. They have highlighted depression and anxiety as the main effect of peer rejection. Just like peer victimization, peer rejection is also found significantly related to social anxiety.
Another dimension of peer relationship is peer acceptance. La Greca and Harrison (2005) have stated that peer acceptance contributes in adolescents’ self-identity and it greatly influences on psychological adjustment. Peer acceptance plays an important role in the social and emotional development of an individual and it also provides a wide range of learning and development opportunities. Social and emotional development includes companionship, recreation, building social skills, participating in groups, and managing competition and conflicts. Mostow, Izard, Fine and Trentacost (2002) added that it also allow self-exploration, emotional growth, moral and ethical development.
When an individual feel that they are less accepted by their peers, it could result in negative effects. Low levels of peer acceptance can cause psychological consequences, particularly social anxiety. Teachman and Allen (2007) examined if the implicit fear of negative evaluation and social anxiety is linked with the psychological factors that are related to the interaction with peers. They have found that adolescents peer interaction have several qualities that would predict social anxiety symptoms and fear of negative evaluation. Their finding supports the claims of social information processing theory of developmental psychopathology. That psychosocial factors are connected to the development of social anxiety.
Specifically, they suggested that lack of perceived social acceptance predicts subsequent implicit fear of negative evaluation. The results of the study shed light on the psychosocial factors that are linked to the development of social anxiety problems and provide support to social information processing theories of developmental psychopathology. The findings showed that lower perceived social acceptance predicts social anxiety and fear of negative evaluation. Similarly to that Greco and Morris (2005) examined the mechanisms that are influencing the connection between social anxiety and low peer acceptance. They have focused on identifying the factors that will explain the link between social anxiety and peer acceptance. They have found that social anxiety was clearly linked to social preference and skills, but not to social impact and friendship quality.
Social anxiety can be both influenced and can influence social skills. Social skills and friendship variables are clearly connected with social anxiety and peer acceptance. Erath, Flanagan, and Bierman (2007) focused on the factors that are related to social anxiety. Their findings revealed that being socially anxious during adolescent were connected with fewer acceptances of peers. Withdrawn children have a higher tendency to experience social difficulties and fuels the increased of social anxiety. In short, those early adolescents with elevated social anxiety may result into the decreased of peer acceptance due to the reduced rates of positive social engagement. Lower peer acceptance that is associated with lower positive peer response also increase the feeling of being socially anxious, that is ineffective during social interaction.
Sentse, Lindenberg, and Veenstra (2010) have proved the link between peer acceptance and social anxiety. They have found that peer acceptance is significantly connected to the externalizing and internalizing problems, specifically in depression and anxiety. Sentse, Lindenberg, Omulee, Ormel, and Veenstra (2010) added that peer acceptance is also related to the internalizing and internalizing problems.
With respect to peer victimization, peer rejection and peer acceptance, these dimensions of peer relationships have established the linked with social anxiety among adolescents. Another dimension that researchers explored in peer relationships is peer attachment and friendship quality.
According to Gorrese and Ruggieri (2012), peer attachment represents a special type of social relationship. It is characterized by repeated contact in a critical context within which the individual organizes emotional experiences and regulates felt security. Individuals must see their attachment figures to be available if needed, regardless of changes in time or context (Kobak, Rosenthal & Serwik, 2005). The first attachment relationship is established with parents, but during the transition from childhood to adolescence, an individual can form attachment bonds with people aside from their family, for instance with their peers. Adolescence is a period of development in which the relationship within peers gradually takes on more and more adult attachment relationships. During this stage of development, peers begin to be the primary source of intimacy and disclosure for adolescents. In addition, peers provide emotional and social support for adolescents. And sometimes, they see them as their primary attachment figure (Wilkinson, 2004).
Several studies examined peer attachment in different developmental areas. Laghi, Pallini, Baumgartner, and Baiocco (2015) examined the relationship between parent and peer attachment, time perspective, and satisfaction with life. The results show that there is a relationship between parent and peer attachment, time perspective, and life satisfaction.
Wilkinson (2004) conducted a study to examine the relationships of parental attachment, peer attachment, and self-esteem to adolescent psychological health. The results showed that in peer attachment, it clearly contributed to the psychological adjustment of the adolescent. The results indicated that attachment relationships greatly influence the self-worth of an individual rather than directly influencing psychological symptoms. Adolescents having a close and secure relationship with peers tend to evaluate their own attributes and worth more highly.
Noom, Dekovic, and Meeus (1999) investigated the relationships between maternal attachment, paternal attachment, peer attachment, self-esteem, and depression. Their findings show that peer attachment is not connected to self-esteem but a predictor of depression.
In a study conducted by Carlo, McGinley, Hayes, and Martinez (2010) they examined the relationship of peer attachment with pro-social and physically aggressive behaviors of college students. They found that strong attachment relationship to peers results into a strong effect on the psychological and behavioral adjustment. Furthermore, Burack, D’Arrisso, Ponizovsky, Troop-Gordon, Mandour, Tootoosis, et al., (2013) added that a high level of peer attachment can contribute to the academic success of an individual. Laible, Carlo, and Raffaelli (2000) added that a secured relationship with peers reported a better adjustment, in terms of depression and aggression.
It is important to understand individual predispositions, abilities, and attitudes that allow adolescents to connect to peers. In fact, researchers consider the characteristics of peer relationships in understanding the peer related characteristics of an individual. Researchers’ main concern is the similarity in friendship, it is the level to which friends are more similar to each other rather than random pairings. Most researchers have focused on quality of friendship.
Friendship quality consists of positive and negative dimensions. According to Hawley, Little and Card (2007), the positive dimensions of friendship comprises of intimacy, companionship, and equality. While the negative dimensions of friendship quality comprise of conflict, competition, and aggression. Friendship quality consists of positive and negative relationship features because even in good friendships, conflict still happens.
A number of studies have examined the friendship quality of an individual with their peers. They examined the relationship between friendship quality in different developmental and psychological areas. In a study conducted by Ashwin (2003), he found that there is a relationship between peer support and the academic performance of students. The results indicated that support coming from their peers will result in the improvement in their academic performance. Similarly, Phinney, Dennis, and Chuateco (2005) added that the lack of support coming from peers was a negative predictor of adjustment and lower academic achievement. Furthermore, Pittman and Richmond (2008) added that having a close friend can enhance the social skills of an adolescent, perceived social competence and self-worth. Bagwell (2005) added that a positive friendship quality can predict a higher level of self-esteem in early adulthood.
Overall, higher levels of friendship quality have been linked with psychological well-being. However, research has also shown that friendship quality predicts maladjustment. Studies have examined the direct link between quality of social networks and social support, with maladjustment.
Friendship quality is also an important factor on psychological outcomes. It was supported by the study of Rodriguez, Mira, Myers, Morris, & Cardoza (2003) wherein they have found that higher levels of friendship quality results into a lower level of perceived stress.The results of the study highlight the impact of high-quality friendships on well-being and psychological adjustment.
Thus far, researchers proved that there is a relationship between peer victimization, peer rejection, peer acceptance and social anxiety. Also, research has examined the relationship of peer attachment with psychological adjustment, depression, and aggression. While in friendship quality research has examined the links between friendship quality and subjective well-being and maladjustment.
The Contemporary Interpersonal Theory of Keisler (1996) stated that those children and adolescents, who have difficulties relating to their peer groups, may be particularly vulnerable to social anxiety. Our study is anchored by the theory and the study is interested in the possibility that non-stable traits, specifically aspects of interpersonal relationships, affect social anxiety among adolescents. According to Demir and Weitekamp, (2007), it is important to examine aspects of peer relationships, such as friendship quality. This aspect of peer relationships is beneficial because these are factors over which people have more choice and control and it may predict social anxiety. Also, friendship quality will be examined with positive and negative aspects of friendship. According to Bagwell, Bender, Andreassi, Kinoshita, Montarello, and Muller (2005), it is important to consider both positive and negative aspects of friendships, because both features are associated with different aspects of adjustment. Previous studies only focus on positive friendship features when assessing overall friendship quality. This study will also examine another dimension of peer relationships which is peer attachment in relation to social anxiety. According to Nielsen & Cairns (2009), more studies are needed on interpersonal factors such as peer attachment in relation to social anxiety.
The main purpose of the research is to investigate the role of friendship quality dimensions (closeness and discord) and peer attachment to social anxiety among adolescents. Based on the review of existing research on peer relationships, the current study will address the following research questions and hypotheses:
1. Do friendship quality dimensions (closeness and discord) predict social anxiety among adolescents?
Closeness is a negative predictor of social anxiety and discord is a positive predictor of social anxiety.
2. Does peer attachment affect social anxiety among adolescents?
Peer attachment is a positive predictor of social anxiety.
Conceptual Model of the Study
The study investigates the role of friendship quality and peer attachment to social anxiety among adolescents. Friendship quality has two dimensions (closeness and discord) that may be positive and negative predictors of social anxiety. Closeness in friendship comprises of positive relationship features such as companionship, disclosure, emotional support, approval, and satisfaction. And discord in friendship comprises of negative relationship features such as conflict, criticism, pressure, exclusion, and dominance. The study also investigates the role of peer attachment to social anxiety. Based on the review of existing literature, we hypothesized that closeness in friendship is a negative predictor of social anxiety and discord in friendship is a positive predictor of social anxiety. We also hypothesized that peer attachment is a positive predictor of social anxiety. The study is anchored to the Contemporary Interpersonal Theory, which states that adolescents having difficulties relating to their peer groups may be vulnerable to social anxiety.
This chapter serves to explain in detail the research methodology used in the present study. This section provides detailed information about how the study was conducted. Included are the research design used, the description of participants, instruments, the procedure used to conduct the study, and the data analysis.
Research Design and Research Paradigm
The design of the study is a descriptive non-experimental cross-sectional quantitative approach. We intended to test the objective by investigating the role of friendship quality (closeness and discord) and peer attachment to social anxiety among adolescents. These variables were measured by utilizing instruments and the accumulated data were analyzed using statistical procedures. The correlational research was utilized because we collected the data on a single-time-point. And the non-experimental approach is applied because we did not manipulate the variables and we did not introduce any treatment to the participants. The positivistic paradigm is used in the study because it is objective and the results were based on facts.
We utilized a random sampling method so each individual was chosen entirely by chance and each member of the population has an equal chance of being included in the sample. The participants were composed of 303 (male=199; female=104) high school students from the population of different public high schools around the City of Malolos, Bulacan. The participants’ age ranged from 12-16 (Mean=14.26; SD=1.16).
Friendship Quality. The Network of Relationships—Relationship Quality Version was used to measure friendship quality (closeness and discord) among adolescents. It was published by Wyndol Furman and Duane Buhrmester in 1985. It is used to measure the positive and negative features of social relationships and employs a more extensive set of relationship qualities to describe the supportive and discordant qualities of relationships among children, adolescents, and adults. The version used for this present study consists of 30 items that have 2-dimensional qualities; discord and closeness. Participants rated the extent that a statement (e.g., “How often do you spend fun time with this people?) applies to their relationship with their close friend on a 5-point Likert scale ranging from 1 (Never or Hardly at All) to 5 (Always or Extremely Much). The instrument is rated on a “how often” frequency scale rather than a “how much” magnitude scale. The scores for each dimension can be derived by getting the mean score of the five components of each dimension. Scores range from 1-5, with higher scores indicating higher levels of the quality of that specific relationship. The present study reported a Cronbach alpha of 0.85.
Peer Attachment. Inventory of Parent and Peer Attachment was used to measure peer attachment of adolescents’ perceptions of their friendships. It was published by Gay C. Armsden and Mark T. Greenberg in 1987. The scale consists of two categories: parent and peer attachment, however, in the current study, the researchers only focused with peer attachment. Participants rated 25 items relating to the level of trust, communication, and alienation with their friends on a 5-point Likert scale. Sample items included: “My friend accepts me as I am” (trust); “My friend helps me talk about difficulties” (communication); and “I wish I had different friends” (alienation). The responses were summed (reversing the alienation items) to create the adolescent’s total attachment to friends’ score. Higher scores indicated higher levels of peer attachment.The Cronbach alpha in the present study reported at 0.80.
Social Anxiety. Social Anxiety Scale for Adolescents (SAS-A) was used to measure social anxiety among adolescents. It was designed by Annette M. La Greca and Nadja Lopez and was published in 1998. It consists of 22 items including 18 self-statements and 4 filler items using a 5-point Likert scale ranging from 1 (Not at all) to 5 (All the time), according to how true the statement is for that person. The scale is composed of self-statements that assess a person’s fear of negative evaluation, social avoidance, and distress when approaching unfamiliar social situations and social avoidance and distress generalized to most social situations. Sample items included: “I worry about what others say about me”. Total scores are obtained by summing all the items; higher scores indicate greater social anxiety. The Cronbach alpha in the present study reported at 0.81.
A letter was given to the administrators of the school to inform them about the nature of the study and the students specifically Grade 7 to Grade 10, were the target participants in this study. Also, the permission to conduct the study was requested. Parent consent form was distributed first to the students before the actual data gathering. We informed them that only those with a signature from their parents would be allowed to participate in the survey to be conducted on the next day.
We administered the instruments during regular school days in their respective classrooms according to the procedures arranged by the school stuff. We informed the students that the individual result of the study is confidential and it will be used for educational purposes only. Priming was conducted to ensure that they think of their close friend while answering the questionnaires.
We administered the three set of questionnaires: The Network of Relationships—Relationship Quality Version, Inventory of Parent and Peer Attachment, and Social Anxiety Scale for Adolescents to capture all the data needed to the study. The whole procedure took 40 minutes to complete in a single time frame.
The gathered data were analyzed using statistical procedures. Descriptive statistics was used to describe the average and the deviation of the scores. At the same time, Pearson’s correlation was used to determine if there is a relationship among within the variables. Lastly, multiple regression was used to distinguish if there is an effect on friendship quality, peer attachment, and social anxiety.
This chapter presents the data that have been gathered on the participants of the study. These data will be the basis for accepting or rejecting the hypotheses that have been generated for this study. The hypotheses state that closeness in friendship is a negative predictor, discord in friendship is a positive predictor, and peer attachment is a negative predictor of social anxiety.
Descriptive Statistics of Variables
The descriptive statistics for the variables are illustrated in Table 1. Peer attachment has highest mean score among the study variables with the value of 93.01 and the standard deviation is 11.63, wherein social anxiety has the highest standard deviation with the value of 11.72. Moreover, discord in friendship has the lowest standard deviation with the value of 0.59. Also, discord in friendship and social anxiety are positively skewed which means that there is a greater number of larger values. While closeness in friendship and peer attachment are negatively skewed which means there is a greater number of smaller values.
Relationship of friendship quality and peer attachment to social anxiety
Different significant relationships emerged from the correlational analyses that have been utilized at (p < .05), (Levin & Fox, 2003). The correlation analysis in Table 2 shows that among the two dimensions of friendship quality, discord in friendship is proven to be positively correlated with social anxiety (r = 11). On the other hand, closeness in friendship turned out to be not correlated with social anxiety (r = 0.04). The results also show that peer attachment is negatively correlated with social anxiety (r = -11). The correlational analysis results show that there is a weak positive significant relationship between discord in friendship and social anxiety. Also, there is a weak negative significant relationship between peer attachment and social anxiety. Furthermore, closeness in friendship has no relation with social anxiety.
Role of friendship quality and peer attachment to social anxiety
After knowing that there is a relationship between friendship quality, peer attachment, and social anxiety, multiple regression was conducted. The results indicated that closeness in friendship and discord in friendship are not significant predictors of social anxiety. However, in the correlational analysis, discord in friendship turned out to be positively correlated with social anxiety. This means that there is a tendency that discord can be a predictor of social anxiety. However, regression analysis results show that discord in friendship is not a predictor of social anxiety.
Furthermore, the results also show that peer attachment is a significant predictor of social anxiety wherein, it was a negative predictor of social anxiety among adolescents at (β = -0.12) significant at p < .05. The results indicate a confirmation of our hypothesis that peer attachment predicts the level of social anxiety among adolescents. The result shows that for every unit increase in their peer attachment, there was a corresponding (B = -0.12) decrease in the level of social anxiety among adolescents. The amount of variance that can be explained in peer attachment to social anxiety also has a small effect size of (R2 = .02). This means that peer attachment affects the level of social anxiety among adolescents and the more these adolescents experience peer attachment, the less possible it is that they become socially anxious.
This chapter presents the discussion of results and they are discussed in light of the research questions and hypothesis of the study. These findings are in line with the reviewed literature and the implications and conclusions are presented with limitations and directions for future research.
Synthesis of Findings
A number of studies have recognized that peer relationships contribute to different developmental areas in adolescents. This study investigates the role of friendship quality and peer attachment to social anxiety. The findings show the role of peer attachment in understanding social anxiety among adolescents. Specifically, adolescents with high levels of peer attachment reported less anxiety. The findings suggest that friendships with high attachment towards their peers may serve as a protective function in adolescents’ feelings of social anxiety. Adolescents experiencing high levels of peer attachment enhance the feelings of competence in social situations, increase self-worth, and buffer against excessive feelings of social anxiety. Adolescents who have friends who make them feel prioritize and make them feel good are less probably to experience social anxiety (Festa & Ginsburg, 2011).
Among the two dimensions of friendship quality, closeness and discord in friendship is not a predictor of social anxiety. Based on the correlational analysis, discord in friendship was found to be correlated with social anxiety. However, in regression analysis, the results showed that it is not a predictor of social anxiety. This means that no matter how good the friendship is, conflict still arises and during this stage of development, even when an individual experiences conflicts and disagreements with their peers, there is not enough evidence to bring us to a conclusion that these conflicts and disagreements would eventually lead to the development of feelings of social anxiety. In addition, closeness in friendship is not found to be a protective function in the development of social anxiety. Same with discord, closeness in friendship may not serve as a protective function in the development of social anxiety.
In contrast to the results of this study, La Greca and Harrison (2010) found that adolescents with high positive quality characteristics among their peer relationship reported less social anxiety. In addition, they found that negative quality characteristics predicted feelings of social anxiety. In addition, positive relationships during adolescence may relate to individuals being less sensitive to negative regarding social experiences later on (Masten, Telzer, Fuligni, Lieberman, & Eisenberger, 2012)
Implication of Findings
The study highlights the importance of peer relationships among adolescents in the development of social anxiety. In addition, it focused on investigating the dimensions of peer relationships that can contribute to the theory of development and to the development of preventive interventions for internalizing symptoms such as social anxiety. Adolescence is the period of development where peer relationships are important. Peers begin to be their primary source of social support, aside from their family, thus, friends are important. It is the time where adolescents get affection, approval, and recognition from their peer’s Adolescents need to form friendships and the need to belong gains importance. The level of trust and communication in their peer relationships needs to be high to reduce social anxiety. Having friendships with high levels of peer attachment provides a support system for adolescents. They can provide a sense of belongingness, a feeling of being valued, and help with developing confidence, a sense of security and comfort in being with others going through the same experiences. Closeness and discord in friendship, which are dimensions of friendship quality, were not found to predict social anxiety
In conclusion, the study confirmed that peer attachment has an impact on the experience of social anxiety among adolescence, that is, adolescents with high levels of peer attachment in friendship experience less social anxiety. On the other hand, closeness and discord in friendship did not predict social anxiety among adolescents.
Limitations of the Study
We noticed some limitations in doing our study. We cannot identify whether the current study holds true for generalization in other locations. In particular, our sample came from only one province, limiting the extent to which these findings may be generalizable to a broader population of adolescents. In addition, the questionnaire is tedious, consisting of 77 items requiring a long-time frame to answer. It might cause weariness on the part of the students while answering. We observed that some students did not finish answering the questionnaire.
Directions for Future Research
To deal with the restrictions on this research, we recommend that the generalizability of the population must be taken into consideration, to extend the findings to different populations. In addition, a longitudinal design will be essential for capturing the dynamic nature of social relationships and for examining causal processes associated with feelings of social anxiety.
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