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J Anxiety Disord. 2011 Jun;25(5):697-705. doi: 10.1016/j.janxdis.2011.03.006. Epub 2011 Mar 17.

Experimental modification of interpretation bias regarding social and animal fear in children.

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School of Psychology, University of Sussex, Brighton BN1 9QH, UK.


Using an experimental bias modification task, an interpretation bias towards or away from threat was induced about animal or social situations in a sample of 103 children split into a young (7-10 years) and old age group (11-15 years). Children rapidly learned to select outcomes of ambiguous situations which were congruent with their assigned modification condition. Following positive modification, children's threat interpretation biases significantly decreased, while threat biases increased (non-significantly) after negative modification. Bias modification effects also varied as a function of age with children appearing particularly vulnerable to acquiring biases about stimuli that were congruent with the normative fears for their age group. Weak age-related modification-congruent effects on younger but not older children's anxiety vulnerability in response to a behavioral task were also observed. However, no consistent effects of bias modification on avoidance behavior were found.

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