Does parental anxiety cause biases in the processing of child-relevant threat material?

Cartwright-Hatton, Sam, Abeles, Paul, Dixon, Clare, Holliday, Christine and Hills, Becky (2014) Does parental anxiety cause biases in the processing of child-relevant threat material? Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice, 87 (2). pp. 155-166. ISSN 1476-0835

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Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

Anxiety leads to biases in processing personally relevant information. This study set out to examine whether anxious parents also experience biases in processing child-relevant material.

DESIGN AND METHODS:

Ninety parents acted as a control condition, or received a social anxiety or child-related anxiety induction. They completed a task examining attentional biases in relation to child-threat words and social-threat words, and a task examining ability to categorize emotion in children's faces and voices.

RESULTS:

There was a trend indicating group differences in attentional bias towards social-threat words, and this appears to have been only in the social anxiety condition, but not the child anxiety or control conditions. For child-threat words, attentional bias was present in the child anxiety condition, but not the social anxiety or control conditions. In the emotion recognition task, there was no difference between the control and child anxiety conditions, but the social anxiety condition were more likely to erroneously label children's faces and voices as sad.

CONCLUSIONS:

Parents' anxious biases may spill over into their child's world.

PRACTITIONER POINTS:

Parents' anxious biases may spill over into their child's world. Anxious parents may have attentional biases towards threats in their children's environment. Anxious parents may over-attribute negative emotion to children.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Psychology > Psychology
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion
Depositing User: Lene Hyltoft
Date Deposited: 13 Jul 2015 15:48
Last Modified: 12 Mar 2017 11:23
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/55322

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