Interpretation of ambiguous emotional information in clinically anxious children and adolescents

M R Taghavi, A R Moradi, H T Neshat-Doost, W Yule, T Dalgleish

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

87 Citations (Scopus)


Cognitive theories of anxiety based on adult data predict that individuals vulnerable to anxiety should show threat-related interpretations of ambiguous material and it is proposed that this is an important maintaining factor in anxiety disorders. In the present study, interpretation of ambiguous emotional/neutral information was examined in child and adolescent anxious patients. Two groups of participants, anxious patients (n = 17) and healthy controls (n = 40), were presented with a series of homographs, each with a threatening and a neutral interpretation. For each homograph, the participants were asked to construct a sentence using the homograph. Anxious children and adolescents produced significantly more sentences consistent with threatening homograph interpretations and less consistent with neutral interpretations than did normal controls. Regression analyses revealed no relationship between age and this interpretive bias. Preliminary developmental and theoretical implications are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)809 - 822
Number of pages14
JournalCognition and Emotion
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2000


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