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Worry in children : interpretations of hypothetical scenarios and the relationship to parent factors

posted on 2023-05-26, 18:33 authored by Mason, Bronte
Worry is a commonly experienced phenomenon that serves the important cognitive function of preparing the individual to anticipate future threats. Perceived benefits of worry include enhancement of motivation and facilitation of preparatory and analytical thinking, each of which can facilitate problem-solving. At the pathological extreme, worry is associated with problem exacerbation and increases in anxiety, and excessive worry is the key diagnostic feature of generalised anxiety disorder (GAD). Hitherto, relatively little research has investigated worry in child and adolescent populations. The literature thus far suggests that worry in children is common, with excessive worry also being documented. Studies suggest that the content of children's worry is predominantly self-referent, focusing on issues such as school, personal harm and health (e.g., Silverman, LaGreca, & Wasserstein, 1995). However, other research suggests a shift for children's worry concerns to focus on broader societal and environmental issues such as pollution, starvation and nuclear war (e.g., Gottlieb & Bronstein, 1996). Age differences and sex differences in content and prevalence of worry have also been noted. The literature suggests that several cognitive biases are characteristic of highly anxious individuals. These include sensitivity to threat cues, a tendency to interpret ambiguous cues as threatening and a tendency to overestimate the likelihood of threat. Several studies have replicated these findings in high worry populations, but research using child worriers is particularly limited. The literature has also explored the role of family factors on the development and maintenance of anxiety in children. Parenting styles characterised by overprotection and lack of warmth have been particularly implicated as contributing to anxiety in children. Again, further research is required to evaluate the role of family processes on the development and maintenance of worry in children.


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Copyright 2004 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s). Thesis (M.Psych.)--University of Tasmania, 2004. Includes bibliographical references

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