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Threat interpretation bias in anxious children and their mothers

Gifford, S., Reynolds, S., Bell, S. and Wilson, C. (2008) Threat interpretation bias in anxious children and their mothers. Cognition & Emotion, 22 (3). pp. 497-508. ISSN 0269-9931

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1080/02699930801886649


The role of parents in the development of anxiety disorders in children is of increasing research and clinical interest. This study investigated interpretation biases of anxious children and their mothers using the ambiguous stimuli task developed by Hadwin, Frost, French, and Richards (1997). Three groups of children (aged 7 to 12 years) and their mothers were recruited; 23 non-clinical controls, 18 children with an anxiety disorder and 15 children with an externalising disorder. Following diagnostic assessments of the children, children and their mothers independently completed the homophone task and self-report measures of anxiety. Mothers of anxious children had significantly higher self-reported anxiety than mothers of non-clinical children. As hypothesised, children in the anxious group had higher threat interpretation scores than the non-clinical group. The hypothesis that mothers of anxious children would make more threat interpretations was not supported. Paired correlations showed no significant association between threat interpretations made by children and their mothers. There was a significant positive correlation between maternal threat interpretation and child anxiety. The results suggest that there is a complex association between mother's anxiety and cognitions and those of their children, which requires further examination in controlled observational and experimental studies, including treatment trials.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Interdisciplinary centres and themes > Charlie Waller Institute
Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Department of Psychology
Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Anxiety and Depression in Young People (AnDY)
ID Code:46253

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