Vicarious learning of children’s social-anxiety-related fear beliefs and emotional Stroop bias

Chris Askew, Anna Hagel, Julie Morgan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Models of social anxiety suggest that negative social experiences contribute to the development of social anxiety and this is supported by self-report research. However, there is relatively little experimental evidence for the effects of learning experiences on social cognitions. The current study examined the effect of observing a social performance situation with a negative outcome on children's (8- to 11-years-old) fear-related beliefs and cognitive processing. Two groups of children were each shown one of two animated films of a person trying to score in basketball while being observed by others; in one film the outcome was negative and in the other it was neutral. Children's fear-related beliefs about performing in front of others were measured before and after the film and children were asked to complete an emotional Stroop task. Results showed that social fear beliefs increased for children who saw the negative social performance film. In addition, these children showed an emotional Stroop bias for social anxiety-related words compared to children who saw the neutral film. The findings have implications for our understanding of social anxiety disorder and suggest that vicarious learning experiences in childhood may contribute to the development of social anxiety.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)501-510
Number of pages10
JournalEmotion
Volume15
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 31 Aug 2015

Bibliographical note

This is the post-print version of the ‘Accepted for publication’ manuscript 28/04/15 DOI:10.1037/emo0000083 in Emotion: http://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/emo/ © 2015 American Psychological Association. The copyright for this article belongs to the American Psychological Association (APA). This article may not exactly replicate the final version published in the APA journal. It is not the copy of record. This is the post-print version of the ‘Accepted for publication’ manuscript 28/04/15.

Keywords

  • childhood fear
  • social anxiety
  • vicarious learning
  • observational learning
  • emotional Stroop task

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