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BACKGROUND: During adolescence, peer relationships take precedence and there is a normative increase in social anxiety. Although prospective studies have suggested peer functioning and social anxiety can influence each other, their findings have not been examined systematically. We performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective studies to examine the bidirectional relationship between peer functioning and social anxiety in adolescence. METHODS: EMBASE, PsycINFO, Medline, and PubMed were searched to identify relevant articles. Meta-analysis was conducted to examine the mean effect sizes of prospective associations between social anxiety and four dimensions of peer functioning. Moderator analysis was performed, with age, gender, time interval between baseline and follow-up assessment, and publication year as moderators. RESULTS: Meta-analyses of 23 studies showed that friendship quality (r =-.11), peer rejection (r =-.06), and peer victimization (r =.23) were each associated with later social anxiety, but peer acceptance was not (r =-.11). Social anxiety at baseline was associated with prospective levels of friendship quality (r =-.11), peer rejection (r=.09), and peer victimization (r =.17), but not peer acceptance (r =-.14). Age moderated the association between friendship quality and prospective social anxiety. Other moderator effects were statistically non-significant. LIMITATIONS: Limitations include different classifications of peer functioning, the use of self-report measures, heterogeneity between studies, and underrepresentation of clinical samples. CONCLUSIONS: A significant bidirectional association was found with social anxiety across three dimensions of peer functioning. Psychological prevention and intervention targeting peer functioning and social anxiety are indicated.

Original publication




Journal article


J Affect Disord

Publication Date





650 - 661


Adolescents, Friendship Quality, Peer Acceptance, Peer Rejection, Peer Victimization, Prospective, Social Anxiety, Adolescent, Anxiety, Bullying, Crime Victims, Humans, Peer Group, Prospective Studies