Content-specific interpretation bias in children with varying levels of anxiety: the role of gender and age

Lynn Mobach*, Mike Rinck, Eni S. Becker, Jennifer L. Hudson, Anke M. Klein

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
8 Downloads (Pure)


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)803–814
Number of pages12
JournalChild Psychiatry and Human Development
Issue number5
Early online date16 Mar 2019
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2019

Bibliographical note

Copyright 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
  • content-specificity
  • gender
  • age


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