Cognitive bias for pictorial and linguistic threat cues in children

M Kindt*, Marcel van den Hout, Peter de Jong, B Hoekzema

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

48 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The present study was designed to test the conditions under which threat-related cognitive bias can be observed in anxious children. Measures of cognitive bias for threatening words and pictures were obtained from spider fearful children (N = 55) and non-fearful children (N = 58) aged 8-11 in the first experiment, and from spider fearful children (N = 44), and two control groups (N = 41; N = 36) aged 8 in the second experiment. Cognitive bias was assessed by the emotional Stroop task. In line with our previous findings, all children aged 8 showed a bias for spider words, but not for spider pictures. However, a relation between spider fear and bias was observed when age was taken into account: bias for spider words decreased with age in the non-fearful children whereas this bias maintained in the fearful group. This differential age effect too replicated earlier findings (Kindt, Bierman, & Brosschot, 1997). It is suggested that a bias for threat words is a normal characteristic in children aged 8. During development, normal children learn to inhibit this processing bias, whilst fearful children fail to learn this ability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)201-219
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment
Volume22
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun-2000
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • cognitive bias
  • spider fear
  • children
  • pictorial and linguistic emotional stroop
  • PHOBIA-RELATED WORDS
  • SELECTIVE ATTENTION
  • ANXIETY
  • STROOP
  • INTERFERENCE
  • INFORMATION
  • DISORDERS
  • STIMULI

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