Social inhibition and socioemotional functioning in middle childhood
Sammanfattning: Social inhibition, or in lay language "shyness", means a tendency to react with fearful and hesitant behaviors innovel social encounters. Lowinhibition, on the other hand is associated with a capacity to easily approachnovel social situations. However, low-inhibition might co-occur with difficulties in inhabiting undesired socialbehaviors. When disinhibited behavior in the sense of a lack of normal reserve, or indiscriminate socialbahaviors, is seen, this phenomenon is, in this thesis, named overfriendliness.Study I and Study II aimed at investigating socioemotional functioning in socially high and low-inhibitedchildren, with a special focus on overfriendliness. In Study I, high- and low-inhibited groups were compared toa medium-inhibited group with respect to problem behaviors and social competencies. Among low-inhibitedchildren, a group of overfriendly children was compared to a low-overfriendly group. Study II aimed atfurthering the knowledge about socioemotional functioning in high-inhibited children and in low-inhibitedchildren, when considering high and low overfriendliness. Study III considered problem behaviors in high-andlow-inhibited children when taking dysregulation - as indicated by negative emotionality and impersistence invarious activities - into account. Dysregulation was found to be associated with comorbid internalizing,externalizmg and attention problem behaviors. Results from the three studies show that high social inhibitionwas associated with a heightened risk for internalizing problem behaviors, less well developed socialcompetencies and socioemotional distress reactions. Low social inhibition was, if not co-occurring withoverfriendliness or with broad dysregulation, associated with especially well functioning development, and withlow risk for internalizing problems. Overfriendliness was primarily characterized by attention problembehaviors. When compared with the low-overfriendly group the high-overfriendly group also showed morethrill seeking, hyperactivity, externalising problem behaviors, internalizing problem behaviors, and less welldeveloped social competencies.Results indicated presence of different developmental pathways among socially low-inhibited children, andpointed to the importance of taking the heterogeneity among low-inhibited children into account in the study ofsocioemotional development.
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