Poor social skills are a vulnerability factor in the development of psychosocial problems


Corresponding author, E-mail: segrin@u.arizona.edu


This 2-wave panel study sought to test a social skills deficit vulnerability model of psychosocial problems. According to this model, poor social skills are thought to make people vulnerable to psychosocial problems pursuant to the experience of stressful life events. This model was tested in a sample of 118 students who were moving at least 200 miles away from their home town and making the transition to their first semester of college. At the end of their high school career, participants completed measures of social skills and the following psychosocial problems: depression, loneliness, and social anxiety. Toward the end of their first semester of college, they again completed measures of the psychosocial problems and a measure of stressful life events. Results indicated that lower social skills scores at T1 were predictive of a worsening of psychosocial problems over the course of the study. Furthermore, social skills interacted with stressful life events to predict changes in depression and loneliness. In each case, those with lower social skills at T1 appeared more vulnerable to the development of psychosocial problems by T2 than those with better social skills at T1.