M. van den Hout
P. de Jong
- Cognitive bias for pictorial and linguistic threat cues in children
- Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Psychology Research Institute (PsyRes)
The present study was designed to test the conditions under which threat-related cognitive bias can be observed in anxious children. Measures of cognitive bias for threatening words and pictures were obtained from 55 spider fearful children and 58 non-fearful children (aged 8-11 yrs) in the 1st experiment, and from 44 spider fearful children, and 41 normal controls and 36 nonfearful controls (aged 8 yrs) in the 2nd experiment. Cognitive bias was assessed by the emotional Stroop task. In line with the authors' previous findings, all children aged 8 yrs showed a bias for spider words, but not for spider pictures. However, a relation between spider fear and bias was observed when age was taken into account: bias for spider words decreased with age in the non-fearful children whereas this bias maintained in the fearful group. This differential age effect too replicated earlier findings (M. Kindt et al, 1997). It is suggested that a bias for threat words is a normal characteristic in children aged 8 yrs. It is concluded that during development, normal children learn to inhibit this processing bias, whilst fearful children fail to learn this ability.
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