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12-04-2016 | Uitgave 2/2016

Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review 2/2016

Emotional Competence and Anxiety in Childhood and Adolescence: A Meta-Analytic Review

Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review > Uitgave 2/2016
Brittany L. Mathews, Amanda J. Koehn, Mahsa Movahed Abtahi, Kathryn A. Kerns


Anxiety is conceptualized as a state of negative emotional arousal that is accompanied by concern about future threat. The purpose of this meta-analytic review was to evaluate the evidence of associations between emotional competence and anxiety by examining how specific emotional competence domains (emotion recognition, emotion expression, emotion awareness, emotion understanding, acceptance of emotion, emotional self-efficacy, sympathetic/empathic responses to others’ emotions, recognition of how emotion communication and self-presentation affect relationships, and emotion regulatory processes) relate to anxiety in childhood and adolescence. A total of 185 studies were included in a series of meta-analyses (N’s ranged from 573 to 25,711). Results showed that anxious youth are less effective at expressing (r = −0.15) and understanding emotions (r = −0.20), less aware of (r = −0.28) and less accepting of their own emotions (r = −0.49), and report less emotional self-efficacy (r = −0.36). More anxious children use more support-seeking coping strategies (r = 0.07) and are more likely to use less adaptive coping strategies including avoidant coping (r = 0.18), externalizing (r = 0.18), and maladaptive cognitive coping (r = 0.34). Emotion acceptance and awareness, emotional self-efficacy, and maladaptive cognitive coping yielded the largest effect sizes. Some effects varied with children’s age. The findings inform intervention and treatment programs of anxiety in youth and identify several areas for future research.

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