Development of Social Phobia

Age of development of self-awareness or self-consciousness

Michael Van Ameringen

The authors of several of the contributions are interested in making distinctions between something like "fearful" and "self-conscious" shyness. Dr. Asendorpf does not favour the distinction between fearful and self-conscious shyness proposed by Buss (1984) and prefers to make a distinction between sensitivity to social novelty and sensitivity to social evaluation. What I would most like to know is at what age children develop the capacities for public self-awareness or self-consciousness required to result in either self-conscious shyness or sensitivity to social evaluation. I tend to agree with Dr. Asendorpf that it seems unlikely that the critical self-conscious reactions emerge as early as the second year. Ceratinly according to Buss (1984), self-conscious shyness develops only later, in the fourth or fifth year of life, as an outgrowth of public self-awareness.

I would like to know what the upper and lower age limits for developing the capacity for public self-awareness and/or self-consciousness might be. Dr Asendorpf rightly points out the cognitive capacity for public self-awareness may develop earlier than the ability to report on such cognitions. However, I am not sure that the development of the cognitive capacity for such self-reflection can far outstrip the development of language. Is it possible that the critical capacities become present only rather late in child development or even in adolescence? I would appreciate any opinions from those more expert in these issues.

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