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Look out captain, I hear an ambiguous alien! A study of interpretation bias and anxiety in young children

Stuijfzand, S., Chakrabarti, B., Reynolds, S. and Dodd, H. F. (2019) Look out captain, I hear an ambiguous alien! A study of interpretation bias and anxiety in young children. Behaviour Research and Therapy. ISSN 0005-7967 (In Press)

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1016/j.brat.2019.103450

Abstract/Summary

There is convincing evidence that anxious children and adolescents are biased to interpret ambiguity in a negative way (Stuijfzand, Creswell, Field, Pearcey, & Dodd, 2017). However, little research examines interpretation bias in children under eight years. This is due to existing measures of interpretation bias being inappropriate for young children. Consequently, we aimed to develop a new interpretation bias task for young children using tones. Children learnt to associate high tones with a ‘happy alien’ and low tones with an ‘angry alien’. They were then asked to classify tones from the middle of the frequency range (ambiguous tones) as ‘happy’ or ‘angry’. Corrugator muscle activity was recorded alongside behavioural responses. A community sample of 110 children aged 4 to 8 years, split into high and low anxious groups, completed the task. High anxious children were more likely to interpret the ambiguous tones as negative but this effect was small and only apparent after controlling for developmental factors. Corrugator activity aligned with behavioural responses for trained but not ambiguous tones. This is the first study to assess interpretation bias in young children using behavioural and physiological measures. Results indicate the task is developmentally appropriate and has potential utility for future research.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Anxiety and Depression in Young People (AnDY)
Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Department of Psychology
Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Psychopathology and Affective Neuroscience
ID Code:85366
Publisher:Elsevier

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