Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Program Name/Specialization

Community Psychology


Faculty of Science

First Advisor

Dr. Colleen Loomis

Advisor Role

Thesis Supervisor


Social anxiety disorder is characterized by an extreme and persistent fear of embarrassment or scrutiny in social or performance situations. This condition is among the most common mental illnesses and is characterized by an early onset, chronic course, and significant associated health and social service costs. Nevertheless, it remains among the least recognized, researched, and treated mental health conditions. Critically, broader community characteristics have yet to be considered as valuable tools for disrupting the onset and maintenance of social anxiety. The present study examined the long-term impact of a comprehensive, holistic, community-based early childhood development initiative on social anxiety in young adults. Participants were 74 adults who grew up in impoverished communities and who took part in the initiative as children. An additional 32 individuals who did not partake in the initiative served as the comparison group. Hierarchical multiple regression was employed using initiative participation, gender, and socioeconomic status as predictor variables, and social anxiety as the outcome variable. Gender emerged as the only significant finding: Women reported higher levels of social anxiety than men, and the initiative had a positive impact on female, but not male participants. Findings make an important contribution to the existing literature on social anxiety disorder and provide direction for future preventive efforts.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season