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BACKGROUND: Understanding the role of self-imagery in the development of social anxiety in adolescence holds promise for improving intervention. Cross-sectional studies indicate that imagery characteristics are associated with social anxiety symptoms, however, prospective studies are lacking. The current study examined concurrent and prospective associations between two image characteristics, namely observer-perspective and vividness, with social anxiety symptoms in a community adolescent sample (N = 616; 53% girls; aged 11-15 years). In addition, we examined common themes in the negative social anxiety-related images. METHODS: Negative self-imagery and social anxiety symptoms were assessed using questionnaires at baseline and at 4-6-month follow-up. A series of multiple linear regression analyses were performed to see if each image characteristic predicts concurrent and prospective social anxiety symptoms. Topic modelling was performed to infer key topics from verbal data. RESULTS: Observer-perspective and vividness significantly predicted concurrent social anxiety symptoms beyond the influence of age and gender. Observer-perspective significantly predicted prospective levels of social anxiety symptoms beyond the influence of age, gender, and baseline social anxiety and depression symptoms. Negative self-images clustered into two themes: the fear of appearing anxious and the fear of being judged or viewed as unacceptable. CONCLUSIONS: Specific characteristics and contents of negative self-images may be particularly relevant to the development of adolescent social anxiety. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The online version contains supplementary material available at 10.1007/s10608-022-10316-x.

Original publication




Journal article


Cognit Ther Res

Publication Date





956 - 966


Adolescent, Negative self-imagery, Observer-perspective, Prospective, Social anxiety, Vividness