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Behav Res Ther. 2008 Jan;46(1):39-47. Epub 2007 Oct 7.

Threat interpretation bias as a vulnerability factor in childhood anxiety disorders.

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  • 1School of Psychology, Griffith University (Gold Coast Campus), PMB 50 Gold Coast Mail Centre, Queensland, Australia. a.waters@griffith.edu.au


The present study examined threat interpretation biases in children 7-12 years of age with separation, social and generalised anxiety disorders (N=15), non-anxious offspring at risk due to parental anxiety (N=16) and non-anxious controls of non-anxious parents (N=14). Children provided interpretations of ambiguous situations to assess cognitive, emotional and behavioural responses. In comparison with non-anxious control children and at-risk children who did not differ from each other, anxious children reported stronger negative emotion and less ability to influence ambiguous situations. These results suggest that threat interpretation bias may be a cognitive factor associated with ongoing childhood anxiety but not a vulnerability factor associated with parental anxiety.

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