The current study examined whether children varying in their levels of social anxiety, separation anxiety and spider fear exhibit a negative interpretation bias specific for their fears. Furthermore, age and gender were assessed as moderators of this relation. Children (N = 603) of the age of 7–12 years were asked to solve ambiguous scenarios reflecting social threat, separation threat or spider threat. Children’s levels of anxiety were assessed with self-report questionnaires. Results indicated that children scoring higher on self-reported social anxiety, separation anxiety or spider fear, displayed a negative interpretation bias for the threat-scenarios pertaining to their specific anxiety or fear, even after controlling for comorbidity with other anxiety subtypes. Contrary to our hypotheses, we did not find moderating effects of age or gender. These results indicate that even in a community sample, content-specificity of negative interpretation biases is present.
Bibliographical noteCopyright the Author(s) 2019. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.
- childhood anxiety
- interpretation bias