Cognitive bias for pictorial and linguistic threat cues in children

Kindt, M., van den Hout, M., de Jong, P. & Hoekzema, B., Jun-2000, In : Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment. 22, 2, p. 201-219 19 p.

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The present study was designed to test the conditions under which threat-related cognitive bias can be observed in anxious children. Measures of cognitive bias for threatening words and pictures were obtained from spider fearful children (N = 55) and non-fearful children (N = 58) aged 8-11 in the first experiment, and from spider fearful children (N = 44), and two control groups (N = 41; N = 36) aged 8 in the second experiment. Cognitive bias was assessed by the emotional Stroop task. In line with our previous findings, all children aged 8 showed a bias for spider words, but not for spider pictures. However, a relation between spider fear and bias was observed when age was taken into account: bias for spider words decreased with age in the non-fearful children whereas this bias maintained in the fearful group. This differential age effect too replicated earlier findings (Kindt, Bierman, & Brosschot, 1997). It is suggested that a bias for threat words is a normal characteristic in children aged 8. During development, normal children learn to inhibit this processing bias, whilst fearful children fail to learn this ability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)201-219
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun-2000
Externally publishedYes


  • cognitive bias, spider fear, children, pictorial and linguistic emotional stroop, PHOBIA-RELATED WORDS, SELECTIVE ATTENTION, ANXIETY, STROOP, INTERFERENCE, INFORMATION, DISORDERS, STIMULI

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