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01-10-2012 | Original Article | Uitgave 5/2012

Cognitive Therapy and Research 5/2012

Social Anxiety and the Interaction of Imagery and Interpretations in Children: An Experimental Test of the Combined Cognitive Biases Hypothesis

Tijdschrift:
Cognitive Therapy and Research > Uitgave 5/2012
Auteurs:
Stephanos P. Vassilopoulos, Nicholas J. Moberly, Kandio-Maria Douratsou

Abstract

Previous research with adult samples has demonstrated that self-imagery valence influences the emotional interpretations people make about social situations. However, no research has examined the effect of self-imagery valence on interpretations in children. In the present study we examined the causal role of self-imagery valence on interpretations and judgments concerning ambiguous social events. Self-imagery was experimentally induced by asking children to generate and hold in mind a negative or positive self-image while interpretation and judgmental biases were examined using an ambiguous stories task. Our results showed that social anxiety predicts more negative interpretation and judgmental biases in response to hypothetical social events. Additionally, exposing children to negative or positive self-imagery differentially affected their subsequent judgmental biases, although for interpretation biases this was only true for children scoring above the mean on social anxiety. Crucially, self-imagery valence interacted with social anxiety to predict interpretation (but not judgmental) biases. The findings provide early support for the suggestion that cognitive biases interact to maintain childhood social anxiety.

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