No significant evidence of cognitive biases for emotional stimuli in children at-risk of developing anxiety disorders

Donna Ewing, Suzanne Dash, Ellen Thompson, Cassie Hazell, Zoe Hughes, Kathryn Lester, Sam Cartwright-Hatton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

This paper explores whether the increased vulnerability of children of anxious parents to develop anxiety disorders may be partially explained by these children having increased cognitive biases towards threat compared with children of non-anxious parents. Parents completed questionnaires about their child's anxiety symptoms. Children aged 5-9 (n = 85) participated in two cognitive bias tasks: 1) an emotion recognition task, and 2) an ambiguous situations questionnaire. For the emotion recognition task, there were no significant differences between at-risk children and children of non-anxious parents in their cognitive bias scores for reaction times or for accuracy in identifying angry or happy facial expressions. In addition, there were no significant differences between at-risk children and children of non-anxious parents in the number of threat interpretations made for the ambiguous situations questionnaire. It is possible that these cognitive biases only become present subsequent to the development of an anxiety disorder, or only in older at-risk children.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1243-1252
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Abnormal Child Psychology
Volume44
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jan 2016

Bibliographical note

© The Author(s) 2016. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

Keywords

  • Anxiety
  • cognitive bias
  • at-risk children
  • emotion recognition
  • ambiguous situations

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