Nejra van Zalk

Nejra van Zalk
Imperial College London | Imperial · Dyson School of Design Engineering

MA, MSc, PhD, CPsychol
Director of Design Psychology Lab

About

57
Publications
14,392
Reads
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641
Citations
Introduction
My research areas include the development of psychopathology (such as social anxiety and depression) and its effects on online/offline social networks and relationships, human-technology interaction, behavioural stability and change, emotion mapping, and decision-making.
Additional affiliations
June 2018 - present
Imperial College London
Position
  • Senior Lecturer
August 2016 - May 2018
University of Greenwich
Position
  • Lecturer
September 2005 - August 2016
Örebro University
Position
  • Lecturer
Education
September 2005 - May 2009
Örebro University
Field of study
  • Psychology
September 2000 - June 2005
Örebro University
Field of study
  • Music
September 2000 - June 2005
Örebro University
Field of study
  • Psychology

Publications

Publications (57)
Article
Full-text available
Medical training simulators can provide a safe and controlled environment for medical students to practice their physical examination skills. An important source of information for physicians is the visual feedback of involuntary pain facial expressions in response to physical palpation on an affected area of a patient. However, most existing robot...
Article
Full-text available
Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy (VRET) has been shown to be an effective technique for reducing social anxiety. People who stutter are at greater risk of developing heightened social anxiety. Cognitive behavior therapy protocols have shown promise in reducing social anxiety in people who stutter, but no studies have investigated VRET targeting soc...
Article
Background Social anxiety and depressive symptoms increase markedly during adolescence. Most research examining the emergence of these symptoms has used a variable-centered approach providing little information about how these symptoms group together in individuals over time. Method A person-centered approach utilizing latent profile and latent tr...
Preprint
Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy (VRET) has been shown to be an effective technique for reducing social anxiety. People who stutter are at greater risk of developing heightened social anxiety. Cognitive behavior therapy protocols have shown promise in reducing social anxiety in people who stutter, but no studies have investigated VRET targeting soc...
Article
Full-text available
Older children and teenagers with bilateral cochlear implants often have poor spatial hearing because they cannot fuse sounds from the two ears. This deficit jeopardizes speech and language development, education, and social well-being. The lack of protocols for fitting bilateral cochlear implants and resources for spatial-hearing training contribu...
Preprint
Full-text available
Medical training simulators can provide a safe and controlled environment for medical students to practice their physical examination skills. Visual feedback of involuntary pain expressions in response to physical palpation on an affected area of a patient is an important source of information for physicians. However, most existing robotic medical...
Preprint
BACKGROUND Subclinical (i.e., threshold) social anxiety can greatly affect young people’s lives, but existing solutions appear inadequate considering its rising prevalence. Wearable sensors may provide a novel way to detect social anxiety and result in new opportunities for monitoring and treatment that would be greatly beneficial for sufferers, so...
Article
Background Subclinical (ie, threshold) social anxiety can greatly affect young people’s lives, but existing solutions appear inadequate considering its rising prevalence. Wearable sensors may provide a novel way to detect social anxiety and result in new opportunities for monitoring and treatment, which would be greatly beneficial for persons with...
Preprint
Though much research demonstrates lack of universality in human emotion expressions, less is known about variability in pain recognition (Williams, 2003). There is also need for increased understanding regarding cultural and perceptual biases that might impact pain perception, which is of huge importance for medical education and treatment. In this...
Article
Full-text available
This longitudinal study aimed to examine the 1-year prevalence, incidence and persistence of sub-diagnostic social anxiety (SSA) as well as general risk factors for the incidence and persistence of SSA during early and mid-adolescence. A Swedish sample of adolescents (N = 2,523) aged 13–14 years at Time 1 and 14–15 years at Time 2 completed measure...
Article
Physicians use pain expressions shown in a patient's face to regulate their palpation methods during physical examination. Training to interpret patients' facial expressions with different genders and ethnicities still remains a challenge, taking novices a long time to learn through experience. This paper presents MorphFace: a controllable 3D physi...
Article
Full-text available
This special issue highlights a number of important processes that help explain the emergence and continuation of internalizing psychopathology (i.e., problem behaviors characterized by inner distress) during early adolescence. The five articles making up the special issue are introduced, each of which represents exciting new work regarding how, wh...
Preprint
BACKGROUND Subclinical (i.e., threshold) social anxiety can greatly affect young people’s lives, but existing solutions appear inadequate considering its rising prevalence. Wearable sensors may provide a novel way to detect social anxiety and result in new opportunities for monitoring and treatment that would be greatly beneficial for sufferers, so...
Article
Full-text available
A growing body of research has acknowledged the heterogeneity of subclinical social anxiety, identifying a subgroup of individuals who exhibit high levels of impulsivity. In a sample of Swedish early adolescents ( N = 2,509, M age = 13.64; 52.8% girls), we conducted latent transition analyses (LTA) to identify four classes of subclinical social anx...
Book
This book provides an in-depth insight into what is currently known and relatively unknown about youths’ online peer engagement. It delivers state-of-the-art current reviews of the literature in the field, with a strong coverage of methodological issues in studying online friendships and an emphasis on moving towards a new, less dichotomic, view of...
Chapter
Full-text available
Online peer engagement has gone through rapid changes in the past decades, largely due to the rise of social network platforms and availability of new digital technologies. Academic research into online peer interactions has not kept up with these quick developments, however, with the majority of findings on online peer engagement placed in “good”...
Chapter
Full-text available
The final chapter in this book highlights the relevance for research focus on the impact of technology-mediated communication (TMC) during adolescence. Particular emphasis is placed on development during adolescence in tandem with the reported high level of TMC use among peers. The chapter draws together findings from previous chapters to examine s...
Article
Full-text available
Early adolescents spend a lot of time online, yet little is currently known about the links between parental rule-setting, adolescent disclosure about online activities, and whether social anxiety may interfere with these processes. Using a longitudinal sample of 526 adolescents (269 girls; Mage = 14.00) and their parents (79% mothers, Mage = 43.66...
Article
Full-text available
Recent technological advances in robotic sensing and actuation methods have prompted development of a range of new medical training simulators with multiple feedback modalities. Learning to interpret facial expressions of a patient during medical examinations or procedures has been one of the key focus areas in medical training. This article review...
Article
Full-text available
Background Preliminary evidence suggests that impairment of social performance in socially anxious individuals may be specific to selective aspects of performance and be more pronounced in females. This evidence is based primarily on contrasting results from studies using all-male or all-female samples or that differ in type of social behaviour ass...
Article
Full-text available
This study focuses on the temporal sequence between social anxiety and depressive symptoms, and whether cybervictimization might mediate these links. We used a longitudinal sample of 501 early adolescents (51.9% girls; Mage = 13.96) followed at three time points. Using a cross-lagged path model in MPlus, we found that social anxiety predicted depre...
Article
The DSM-5 classification of performance anxiety as distinct from social anxiety underlines the need for specific measurement instruments. The Social Phobia Scale (SPS) and Social Interaction Anxiety Scale (SIAS) are widely used assessments of performance and general interaction anxiety, yet few studies have examined their criterion validity using a...
Article
Full-text available
Social ostracism among the homeless is a prevailing problem, yet few studies have focused on whether internalizing psychopathology moderates the links between feeling ostracized and perceiving threats to fundamental human needs. This study used a person-oriented approach to identify commonly occurring profiles of internalizing psychopathology chara...
Article
Full-text available
This study investigated the links between parental worry, parental over-control and adolescent social anxiety in parent-adolescent dyads. Using a longitudinal sample of adolescents (Mage = 14.28) and their parents (224 mother-daughter, 234 mother-son, 51 father-daughter, and 47 father-son dyads), comparisons were conducted using cross-lagged path m...
Article
OBJECTIVE: The current study investigated (a) how a composite measure of shyness comprising introversion and neuroticism relates to other well-known constructs involving social fears, and (b) whether mean levels of shyness vary for men and women depending on the adoption of various social roles. METHOD: Study 1 used a sample of 211 UK participants...
Article
Full-text available
Objectives: We examined whether co-rumination with online friends buffered the link between social anxiety and depressive symptoms over time in a community sample. Methods: In a sample of 526 participants (358 girls; Mage = 14.05) followed at three time points, we conducted a latent cross-lagged model with social anxiety, depressive symptoms, and c...
Article
Full-text available
Excessive online chatting can lead to unwanted consequences such as compulsive Internet use over time. Not all adolescents use chatting for the same purpose, however, and these links may not be as pronounced for socially anxious adolescents as they likely communicate with others online in order to compensate for offline social inadequacies. The cur...
Article
Full-text available
Evidence for the risks of psychopathic personality traits for adolescent antisocial behavior are well documented in the literature. Little is known, however, about who the peers of adolescents with these traits are and to what extent they influence one another. In the current study, three dimensions of psychopathic traits were distinguished: grandi...
Article
Full-text available
Early adolescence poses many challenges for young people, and it is during this phase that social anxiety disorder (SAD) tends to develop. Research indicates that adolescents have a relatively immature neurobiological brake-system (based in the prefrontal cortex) in relation to a more matured alarm- or gas-system (based in the subcortical regions)...
Article
Non-clinical social anxiety in adolescence can be highly problematic as it likely affects current and especially new social interactions. Relationships with significant others, such as close friends, mothers, and fathers, could aid socially anxious adolescents' participation in social situations, thereby helping reduce feelings of social anxiety. W...
Article
Full-text available
An atypical subgroup of Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) with impulsive rather than inhibited traits has recently been reported. The current study examined whether such an atypical subgroup could be identified in a clinical population of 84 adults with SAD. The temperament dimensions harm avoidance and novelty seeking of the Temperament and Character...
Article
Full-text available
Prior research has indicated that shy adolescents are more motivated to form friendships online than to form friendships offline. Little is known about whether having friendships found exclusively online may impact self-esteem and forming offline friendships for these adolescents. This study therefore aimed to provide insight into the moderating ro...
Article
Full-text available
Previous research has identified a subgroup of socially anxious adults who are both anxious and impulsive. To date, however, this subgroup has not been identified in adolescence. Therefore, in this study we aimed to identify this subgroup in a sample of adolescents. In addition, we hypothesized that this subgroup would be higher on problem behavior...
Article
Full-text available
Socially anxious people are typically thought of as being behaviorally inhibited; however, an atypical subgroup, which is impulsive rather than inhibited, has recently been identified. Theoretically, inhibition and impulsivity could be viewed as different strategies for coping with anxiety that have the same goal—escape from negative emotions—but t...
Article
Full-text available
To what extent do adolescents and their friends socialize each others’ attitudes toward immigrants? Can friends’ positive attitudes toward immigrants counter adolescents’ negative attitudes toward immigrants, and do friends’ negative attitudes decrease adolescents’ positive attitudes? These questions were examined by following a large (N=1,472) fri...
Article
Full-text available
To what extent do adolescents and their friends socialize each others’ attitudes toward immigrants? Can friends’ positive attitudes toward immigrants counter adolescents’ negative attitudes toward immigrants, and do friends’ negative attitudes decrease adolescents’ positive attitudes? These questions were examined by following a large (N = 1,472) f...
Article
Full-text available
Two kinds of parental behaviors—psychological control and emotional warmth—have been linked with children’s shy behaviors. The questions we addressed are whether this applies to adolescent shyness, and whether shyness in itself might also affect perceptions of parental behaviors. The participants were 916 seventh to ninth graders in a longitudinal...
Article
Full-text available
In this study, we looked at whether social anxiety is socialized, or influenced by peers’ social anxiety, more in some peer crowds than others. Adolescents in crowds with eye-catching appearances such as Goths and Punks (here termed Radical), were compared with three comparison groups. Using data from 796 adolescents (353 girls and 443 boys; M age...
Article
Full-text available
Socially anxious children and adolescents have previously been found to have friends with similarly socially anxious, withdrawn behavioral characteristics. How peers might socialize social anxiety over time has, however, not been thoroughly investigated. We examined this in a sample of 834 youths (339 girls and 495 boys; M=14.29), followed for 3 ye...
Article
Full-text available
Van Zalk, N., Kerr, M. & Tilton-Weaver, L. (2011). Shyness as a moderator of the link between advanced maturity and early adolescent risk behavior. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology 52, 341–353. Advanced maturity in early adolescence has previously been linked with several risk behaviors. In this study, we examine whether shyness and gender might...
Book
Full-text available
In most Western societies today, where boldness and good self- esteem are valued, socially fearful behaviors are viewed as a disadvantage. During adolescence, social participation requires a good deal of self-confidence and social skills, specifically when it comes to acquiring and spending time with friends, getting romantically involved, or havin...
Article
Full-text available
Adolescent peer crowds such as Punks and Goths are mainly identified by their strikingly unusual or even shocking appearances. Although many studies find these crowds, few have tried to explain why some youths take on these startling or shocking appearances. We hypothesized that an off-putting appearance is a way to cope with behavioral inhibition...
Article
Full-text available
Advanced maturity in early adolescence has previously been linked with several risk behaviors. In this study, we examine whether shyness and gender might moderate this link. The participants were 750 early adolescents (Mage = 13.73; 390 girls and 360 boys), followed for one year. We conducted analyses with shyness and gender as moderators of the li...
Article
Full-text available
Socially anxious children and adolescents have previously been found to have friends with similarly socially anxious, withdrawn behavioral characteristics. How peers might socialize social anxiety over time has, however, not been thoroughly investigated. We examined this in a sample of 834 youths (339 girls and 495 boys; M=514.29), followed for 3 y...
Article
Full-text available
Two kinds of parental behaviors-psychological control and emotional warmth -have been linked with children's shy behaviors. The questions we addressed are whether this applies to adolescent shyness, and whether shyness in itself might also affect perceptions of parental behaviors. The participants were 916 7th-9th graders in a longitudinal project....
Article
Full-text available
Because a callous use of others in many short-term relationships is one criterion for diagnosing psychopathy in adults, one would expect adolescents who are high on psychopathic personality traits to have unstable, conflict-ridden peer relationships. Little is known about this, however, or about the peer activities of youths who are high in psychop...

Projects

Projects (5)
Project
Using knowledge about the experience of social anxiety in people who stutter, and the cognitive-behavioural processes that maintain it, this project aims to develop a form of Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy for reducing social anxiety levels.