The impact of mothers' trait anxiety on their expectations of approach-avoidance behaviour in anxious and non-anxious children

Clare M. Bell*, Allison M. Waters, Melanie J. Zimmer-Gembeck

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

This study investigated estimates of approach and avoidance behaviour in clinically anxious and non-anxious children, and whether mothers' expectations of their children's avoidance differed as a function of high trait anxiety (HTA) versus low trait anxiety (LTA). Participants were 62 clinically anxious and 60 non-anxious children aged 7-12 years and their mothers. Estimates of avoidance were obtained using an analogue task in which children and mothers were given threat and pleasant information about two novel animals and were asked to estimate children's avoidance of the threat animal's habitat when the threat animal was present (threat condition) and absent (safe condition) from the habitat and when its presence was uncertain (ambiguous condition). Contrary to expectation, anxious children did not differ from controls in estimates of avoidance in any condition. However, relative to HTA mothers of anxious children and LTA mothers of non-anxious children, HTA mothers estimated greater approach behaviour by their non-anxious children in the threat condition. Findings suggest that mothers' expectations of children's approach-avoidance behaviour is influenced by both maternal and child factors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55-64
Number of pages10
JournalAustralian Journal of Psychology
Volume67
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2015
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Approach-avoidance behaviour
  • Childhood anxiety
  • Maternal expectations
  • Maternal trait anxiety

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