Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy

Research Article

Observer Perspective in Adolescence: The Relationship with Social Anxiety and Age

Emma Hignetta1 and Sam Cartwright-Hattona1 c1

a1 University of Manchester, UK


There has been some support for the applicability of the Clark and Wells’ model of Social Phobia within an adolescent population. To date, however, there is limited research to support the existence of the main perpetuating element (i.e. observer perspective) in this population. One hundred and twenty-four adolescents (12–18 years) completed an anxiety-provoking social task. They were asked to generate an image in their mind of what they felt they were like during this situation. The study investigated whether adolescents could report the perspective that they took in this task, and whether increased levels of social anxiety were associated with an “observer” perspective. The study also explored whether age moderated this relationship. It was found that as social anxiety increased, the perspective of the participants moved towards that of an observer. Age was not found to influence the reporting of perspective, nor the association between this and social anxiety. This study provides evidence for the existence of observer perspective within an adolescent population and indicates that this is associated with social anxiety. It provides some indirect support for the continued use of video feedback strategies with this age group.


c1 Reprint requests to Sam Cartwright-Hatton, MRC Clinician Scientist Fellow, School of Psychological Sciences, Zochonis Building, University of Manchester, Manchester M13 9PL, UK. E-mail: