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01-10-2013 | Original Article | Uitgave 5/2013

Cognitive Therapy and Research 5/2013

The Role of Parental Anxiety in Child-Related Threat Interpretation

Cognitive Therapy and Research > Uitgave 5/2013
Ross Mackenzie, Ben Laskey, Anja Wittkowski


Child-related information processing biases in anxious parents have been hypothesised as important determinants in the intergenerational transmission of anxiety from parents to children. This study examined the effect of induced state anxiety on parental interpretation of ambiguous events involving their child to examine the relationship between parental anxiety and child-related information processing biases. Fifty-four community-based parents with a child aged between two and eleven years were presented with a text-comprehension task designed to measure child-related threat interpretation. Prior to completing this task, state anxiety of half of the participants was increased by presenting them with anxiety-provoking images. The remaining participants viewed neutral images. Although a manipulation check revealed the anxiety manipulation was successful in increasing the state anxiety of participants in the anxious condition, no significant difference in patterns of interpretation emerged between the two experimental groups. The anxiety manipulation also produced unexpected increases in other aspects of negative affect. Possible explanations for the results are discussed, including differences in approaches to child-related threat interpretation measurement and the potential influence of characteristics of the child.

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