Date Thesis Awarded

12-2018

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelors of Science (BS)

Department

Neuroscience

Advisor

Dr. Elizabeth Raposa

Committee Members

Dr. Paul Kieffaber

Dr. Carla Buck

Abstract

Difficulties with social interaction are a hallmark feature of many clinical disorders, and one factor that may contribute to these difficulties is a deficit in social perception skills, such as affect recognition and theory of mind (ToM). The present study examines the effect of depressive and anxiety symptoms on social perception in a community sample of adolescents. Based on past research, we hypothesized that greater levels of internalizing symptoms would predict poorer performance on an affect recognition and ToM task. Twenty-nine adolescent participants completed dimensional measures of depressive symptoms, worry, and anxiety sensitivity, as well as a standardized neuropsychological assessment of social perception. Regression analyses revealed that greater levels of internalizing symptoms did not significantly predict a global impairment of either affect recognition or ToM. However, greater levels of worry predicted an increased number of sad errors (b = 0.10, SE = 0.02, β = .70, p < .001), while greater levels of anxiety sensitivity predicted a decreased number of fear errors (b = -0.05, SE = 0.02, β = -.46, p < .05). Greater levels of worry also predicted deficits in affective, but not cognitive, ToM (b = -0.04, SE = 0.02, β = -.50, p < .05). These findings suggest that subclinical internalizing symptoms may have specific, but not global, effects on social perception in adolescents. Overall, this study highlights the importance of transdiagnostic research in adolescent populations to elucidating risk factors for clinical disorder and identifying appropriate targets for intervention.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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