- The relation between social anxiety and biased interpretations in adolescents with mild intellectual disabilities
- Research in Developmental Disabilities
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Psychology Research Institute (PsyRes)
Research of the Student Medical Service
Cognitive theories of anxiety emphasize the importance of cognitive processes in the onset and maintenance of anxiety disorders. However, little is known about these processes in children and adolescents with Mild Intellectual Disabilities (MID).
The aim of this study was to investigate interpretation bias and its content-specificity in adolescents with MID who varied in their levels of social anxiety.
Method and procedures
In total, 631 adolescents from seven special secondary schools for MID filled in questionnaires to measure their levels of social anxiety. They also completed the Interpretation Recognition Task to measure how they interpret ambiguous situations.
Outcomes and results
Adolescents with higher self-reported levels of social anxiety interpreted ambiguous scenarios as more negative than adolescents with lower self-reported social anxiety. Furthermore, this negative interpretation was specific for social situations; social anxiety was only associated with ambiguous social anxiety-related scenarios, but not with other anxiety-related scenarios.
Conclusions and implications
These findings support the hypothesis that socially anxious adolescents with MID display an interpretation bias that is specific for stimuli that are relevant for their own anxiety. This insight is useful for improving treatments for anxious adolescents with MID by targeting content-specific interpretation biases.
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