nl en

Social Anxiety and Normal Development


Admission requirements

MSc Psychology (research) students


Family and twin studies support a hereditary contribution to psychopathological disorders (e.g., depression, conduct disorder, social phobia), and they also provide evidence for a contribution of environmental factors. Some candidate genes have been put forward but the explained variance of these genes is very low or even absent. It is, however, possible that genes are not directly related to psychopathology, but only in interaction with specific environmental factors.

Course objectives

  • Raise understanding of gene-environment interplay and how to design a gene-environment study.

  • Developing a critical attitude in reading papers.

  • Training in developing ideas for future studies.

  • Improve skills of discussing own ideas in the group and writing proposals for new studies.


Social Anxiety and Normal Development (2011-2012):

Mode of instruction

Seven 2-hour sessions (weekly), each addressing one of a number of themes, based on recent empirical publications. In the first session(s) the general idea of gene-environment interaction will be introduced. The remaining sessions will contain student presentations and group discussions regarding a specific theme. Students are expected to prepare for each session by reading the listed papers (available via Blackboard) and by working on a research proposal.

Assessment method

The assessment is based on presentations, group discussions and an essay.

From January 1, 2006 the Faculty of Social Sciences has instituted the Ephorus system to be used by instructors for the systematic detection of plagiarism in students’ written work. Please see the information concerning fraud .


Information on

Reading list

Readings available via ‘Blackboard’. Exemplary literature includes:

  • Rapee, R.M., & Spence, S.H. (2004). The etiology of social phobia: Empirical evidence and an initial model. Clinical Psychology Review, 24, 737-767.

  • Fox, N.A. et al. (2005). Evidence for a gene-environment interaction in predicting behavioral inhibition in middle childhood. Psychological Science, 16, 921-926.

  • Ellis, B.J., Boyce, W.T., Belsky, J., Bakermans-Kranenburg, M.J., & Van IJzendoorn, M.H. (2011). Differential susceptibility to the environment: An evolutionary-neurodevelopmental theory. Development & Psychopathology, 23, 7-28.

  • Bakermans-Kranenburg, M.J., Van IJzendoorn, M.H., Caspers, K., & Philibert, R. (2011). DRD4 genotype moderates the impact of parental problems on unresolved loss or trauma. Attachment & Human Development, 13, 253-269.

  • Bögels, S.M., Bamelis, L., & Van der Bruggen, C. (2008). Parental rearing s a function of parents’s own, partner’s, and child’s anxiety status: Fathers make the difference. Cognition and Emotion, 22, 522-538.

  • Degnan, K.A., Almas, A.N., & Fox, N.A. (2010). Temperament and the environment in the etiology of childhood anxiety. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 51, 497-517.

  • Blöte, A.W., Bokhorst, C.L., Miers, A.C., & Westenberg, P.M. (in press). Why are socially anxious adolescents rejected by peers? Journal of Research on Adolescence.

  • Verduin, T. L., & Kendall, P. C. (2008). Peer perceptions and liking of children with anxiety disorders. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 36, 459-469.

  • Miers, A. C., Blote, A. W., & Westenberg, P. M. (2011). Negative social cognitions in socially anxious youth: Distorted Reality or a Kernel of Truth? Journal of Child and Family Studies, 20, 214-223.

  • Creswell, C. & O’ Connor, T. G. (2006). ‘Anxious cognitions’ in children: An exploration of associations and mediators. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 24, 761-766.

  • Burstein, M., & Ginsburg, G. S. (2010). The effect of parental modeling of anxious behaviors and cognitions in school-aged children: An experimental pilot study. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 48, 506-513.

Master’s introduction and enrolment day

Make a reservation in your agenda so you will not miss any information that you will need during your master’s programme MSc in Psychology. Please consult the Agenda master meetings

Contact information

Mw. Dr. C.L. Bokhorst
Room 3B36
Tel: +31(0)71- 527 4044