Threat interpretation bias as a vulnerability factor in childhood anxiety disorders

Allison M. Waters*, Michelle G. Craske, R. Lindsey Bergman, Michael Treanor

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Citations (Scopus)


The present study examined threat interpretation biases in children 7-12 years of age with separation, social and generalised anxiety disorders (N=15), non-anxious offspring at risk due to parental anxiety (N=16) and non-anxious controls of non-anxious parents (N=14). Children provided interpretations of ambiguous situations to assess cognitive, emotional and behavioural responses. In comparison with non-anxious control children and at-risk children who did not differ from each other, anxious children reported stronger negative emotion and less ability to influence ambiguous situations. These results suggest that threat interpretation bias may be a cognitive factor associated with ongoing childhood anxiety but not a vulnerability factor associated with parental anxiety.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-47
Number of pages9
JournalBehaviour Research and Therapy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • At-risk offspring
  • Childhood anxiety disorders
  • Threat interpretation bias


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