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Social evaluation fear in childhood and adolescence: Normative developmental course and continuity of individual differences


Correspondence should be addressed to Prof. P. Michiel Westenberg, PhD, Developmental Psychology, Leiden University, Wassenaarseweg 52, 2300 RB Leiden, The Netherlands (e-mail:


Using cross-sectional (N =910) and longitudinal (N =261) data from Gullone and King's (1993, 1997) studies of normal fear in children and adolescents aged 7 to 18 years, the normative developmental pattern of social evaluation fear and the continuity of individual differences were investigated. Participants' responses were analysed according to two subscales (Social Evaluation and Punishment) within the Failure and Criticism scale of the Fear Survey Schedule. The findings indicated that: (a) social evaluation fear increased between childhood and adolescence, while punishment fear decreased, (b) individual differences in social evaluation fear displayed only modest continuity over the 3-year follow-up period, (c) continuity of social evaluation fear increased with increased age and (d) discontinuity was particularly salient for relatively high fear levels.