No single cause of selective mutism has been identified, and its causes seem to be multifactorial (Cohan, Price, & Stein, 2006). The following factors may coexist and play a role in selective mutism:
- Associated anxiety disorders, such as social phobia, separation anxiety, and obsessive compulsive disorder (Beidel & Turner, 2007; Black & Uhde, 1995; Manassis et al., 2003).
- Hereditary or genetic component with a significant overlap between selective mutism and social anxiety disorder (Black & Uhde, 1995; Cohan et al., 2006; Viana et al., 2009).
- Familial links coupled with environmental factors, such as reduced opportunities for social contact, observing anxious behaviors, or reinforcing avoidance behaviors (Viana et al., 2009).
- Shy or timid temperament (APA, 2013; Steinhausen & Juzi, 1996).