Monday, March 28, 2011

Social fears of Swedish adolescents in junior high school

In 2009, results from a survey of marked fears in 2,128 Swedish adolescents were published (see above bar chart). Click the image to enlarge it. Their data were collected from students in grades 6 to 8 (aged 12 to 14) back in 2005. Students came from five different municipalities, and there were 1136 girls and 992 boys. The detailed reference is: T. Furmark, M. Tillfors, P.-O. Everz, I. Marteinsdottir, O. Gefvert, M. Frederikson, “Social phobia in Swedish adolescents, ”Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, V44, pages 441 to 447, 2009. You can find an abstract here. It notes that this age group is in the at-risk period for developing social phobia.

Only 6.8% of the students reported a marked fear of speaking in front of the class. This was larger than any of the other 7 specific categories. Making a phone call to someone unfamiliar was second, feared by 4.8%. A marked fear of at least one social situation was reported by 13.8% of the group.

It is interesting to compare these results with those from the 1999 survey of the Swedish general public that I discussed in my previous post. For both making a phone call to someone unfamilar and initiating a conversation with someone unfamilar the percentages are almost a perfect match. But, while 24% of adults feared speaking (or performing) in front of a group of people, only 6.2% of the adolescents feared speaking in front of the class.

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