- Specificity of dysfunctional thinking in children with symptoms of social anxiety, separation anxiety and generalised anxiety
- Behaviour change
- Volume | Issue number
- 20 | 3
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Psychology Research Institute (PsyRes)
The present study investigated whether children with high symptom levels of either social phobia (SP), separation anxiety disorder (SAD), or generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) are characterised by a specific set of dysfunctional interpretations that are consistent with the cognitive model of their specific fear. It was also examined whether such cognitive bias is predominantly activated in those ambiguous situations that are relevant for the pertinent fear. Children high on symptoms of SP, SAD, and GAD and low-anxious control children were exposed to stories describing ambiguous situations and asked to give their interpretations and action plans. Results showed that high-anxious children displayed a negative cognitive bias compared to control children, but did not differ from controls with respect to the action plans given. Some evidence was found for the content-specificity of this cognitive bias. That is, consistent with the hypothesis of content-specificity of interpretations, children high on SAD reported more interpretations consistent with the content of their fear than children high on SP and GAD. Children high on GAD did not show content-specificity for interpretations or situations. The theoretical implications of these findings are briefly discussed.
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