Developmental changes in the interpretation of rating format on a questionnaire measure of worry

Marilyn A. Campbell, Ronald M. Rapee, Susan H. Spence

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    15 Citations (Scopus)


    Questionnaires asking about feared outcomes were administered to 1761 children (aged between 5 and 16) and 248 adults. The questionnaires were worded in three different ways and given to three separate groups of children and adults. The first questionnaire asked, “How much do you worry about these events?” (worry); the second “How bad would It be if you had these events happen to you?” (aversiveness); and the third “How often do you think about these events?” (frequency of thought). Adults answered the worry and frequency of thought questionnaires with similar ratings and the aversiveness questionnaire with higher ratings. In contrast, children under 10 years of age answered the worry and aversiveness versions with similar ratings, with the frequency of thought wording scores being substantially lower. Children over 10 years rated the aversiveness wordings highest, followed by the worry wordings then the frequency of thought wordings. It was concluded that young children equate the concept of worry with the aversiveness of an outcome and that this tendency changes across age to adulthood where the concept of worry is more associated with frequency of thought regarding feared outcomes.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)49-59
    Number of pages11
    JournalThe Clinical Psychologist
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2000


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