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The Relation Between Differentiation and Social Anxiety: What Can Be Learned from Students and Their Parents?

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The study tested the relation between parents' differentiation and offspring's social anxiety, using a sample of university students and their parents to reflect family patterns across three generations. The main finding confirmed that parents' levels of differentiation (differentiation of self and family differentiation) and social anxiety were positively related to those of their offspring. This lends support to Bowen's (1978; Kerr & Bowen, 1988) contention of transmission of the family emotional process across generations. Moreover, students' social anxiety was found to be inversely related to their parents' levels of differentiation. The importance of addressing family issues in the treatment of individuals with problems related to social anxiety is indicated.
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Keywords: differentiation of self; family differentiation; social anxiety

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Haifa

Publication date: February 1, 2005

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