Early maladaptive schemas and social anxiety in adolescents: The mediating role of anxious automatic thoughts

Esther Calvete, Izaskun Orue, Benjamin L. Hankin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cognitive models state that cognitions are organized hierarchically, so that the underlying schemas affect behavior via more automatic, superficial cognitive processes. This study aimed to demonstrate that early maladaptive schemas predict anxious automatic thoughts, and to show that such automatic thoughts act as mediators between schemas and prospective changes in social anxiety symptoms. The study also examined an alternative reverse model in which schemas acted as mediators between automatic thoughts and social anxiety. A total of 1052 adolescents (499 girls and 553 boys; Mage=13.43; SDage=1.29) completed measures of early maladaptive schemas, socially anxious automatic thoughts, and social anxiety symptoms at Times 1, 2, and 3. The results revealed bidirectional longitudinal relationships among schemas and automatic thoughts that were consistent in content (e.g., the disconnection/rejection schemas and automatic thoughts of negative self-concept). Furthermore, the automatic thoughts of anticipatory negative evaluation by others at Time 2 mediated the relationship between the other-directedness schemas at Time 1 and social anxiety symptoms at Time 3. These findings are consistent with hierarchical cognitive models of social anxiety given that deeper schemas predict more surface-level thoughts. They also support that these more surface-level thoughts contribute to perpetuating schemas. Finally, results show that early maladaptive schemas of the other-directedness domain play a relevant role in the development and maintenance of social anxiety.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)278-288
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Anxiety Disorders
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescents
  • Anxious automatic thoughts
  • Early maladaptive schemas
  • Social anxiety

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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