The stability of fears in children: A two year prospective study: A research note

S. H. Spence*, H. McCathie

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    46 Citations (Scopus)


    This study investigated the stability of self-reported fears amongst 94 primary school children over a 2-year period using the Fear Survey Schedule for Children - Revised (FSSC-R). Children reported a decrease in fearfulness with increasing age, with girls reporting higher fear scores than boys on both occasions. The most frequently feared stimuli were almost identical for boys and girls and remained the same on both occasions, relating mainly to fears of danger, death and physical injury. Those fears that showed the greatest reduction over time concerned getting sick, parental criticism or punishment and the dark for girls, whereas boys reported the greatest reductions in fears relating to physical injury, parental criticism, the dark and unfamiliar persons. The only fear stimulus to increase with age was 'giving a spoken report', which was rated as more fearful by boys on the second occasion. Children identified as unusually fearful at Time 1, were much more likely to report high fear levels two years later, compared to children who did not report high fear levels at Time 1.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)579-585
    Number of pages7
    JournalJournal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 1993


    • Children
    • Fears
    • Longitudinal study


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