Parents’ fear of negative evaluation (FNE) has been proposed to play a role in the intergenerational transmission of social anxiety. We investigated whether (1) parents’ own FNE, a core belief of social anxiety, extends to their child’s environment resulting in fear of negative child evaluation (FNCE); and (2) parents’ FNCE mediates the association between parents’ social anxiety, parenting behavior and children’s social anxiety.
In this cross-sectional study, fathers (n = 84) and mothers (n = 92) from 99 Caucasian families completed questionnaires on social anxiety, FNE, FNCE, and parenting (intrusiveness, negative parenting and encouragement of social daring) when their child was 7.5 years old. Child social anxiety was measured by questionnaires (child and parent report).
For both parents, FNE mediated the association between their social anxiety and FNCE. Furthermore, FNCE mediated the relation between both parents’ social anxiety and intrusiveness and the relation between mothers’ social anxiety and negative parenting. In addition, FNCE mediated the relation between fathers’ social anxiety and children’s social anxiety (parents’ report only) directly and through intrusive parenting.
Our study suggests that parents’ FNE extends to their children’s environment and provides support for the role of FNCE in various pathways of intergenerational transmission of social anxiety during middle childhood.