Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences



Committee Chair

Tracy L. Morris.


This study sought to examine the relation between levels of child social anxiety and parenting communication styles, specifically parental control and criticism verbal behaviors, during a film discussion task. Additionally, the current study examined the influence of discussion instructions (unstructured vs. structured) and content of film clips (social performance, friendships and family dynamics) on parent-child dyad responses and children's perception of threat respectively. A total of 26 parent-child dyads participated in the study, with 25 dyads (23 mothers (M age = 40.3), 2 fathers (M age = 48), 15 girls (M age = 9.7), 10 boys (M age = 10.2)) included in the analyses. Parents and children completed a functioning measure of social anxiety and children also completed measures of perceived parenting style. The dyads then engaged in discussion of 6 short film clips for approximately 5 minutes each. The verbalizations of both the parents and children were coded. Higher parental social anxiety scores were found to be significantly associated with increased children's self-report paternal care (r = .53, p < .01). Children's perceptions of their parents' care and overprotection behaviors were also associated with observed behaviors of control and criticism during the film discussion task. Additionally, film content category was found to significantly influence children's perception of threat, with more children observed to find the social performance film clip anxiety provoking compared to the family dynamic and friendship film clips. The results appeared relatively consistent with prior research in the area of social anxiety and parent-child interactions (e.g. Ginsberg, Grover, Cord, & Ialongo, 2006). Limitations of the study include small sample size and inability to examine meaningful parent gender differences in communication styles. Future research should continue to use multi-method assessment in this area of research and further examine the utility of using film clips as stimuli for parent-child discussion tasks.