The present study made an attempt to induce fear-related reasoning biases by providing children with negative information about a novel stimulus. For this purpose, non-clinical children aged 9-12 years (N = 318) were shown a picture of an unknown animal for which they received either negative, ambiguous, positive, or no information. Then children completed a series of tests for measuring various types of reasoning biases (i.e., confirmation bias and covariation bias) in relation to this animal. Results indicated that children in the negative and, to a lesser extent, the ambiguous information groups displayed higher scores on tests of fear-related reasoning biases than children in the positive and no information groups. Altogether, these results support the idea that learning via negatively tinted information plays a role in the development of fear-related cognitive distortions in youths.

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Keywords Children, Confirmation bias, Covariation bias, Fear-related reasoning biases, Verbal pathway to fear-acquisition
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Journal Behaviour Research and Therapy
Muris, P.E.H.M, Rassin, E.G.C, Mayer, B.N, Smeets, G, Huijding, J, Remmerswaal, D, & Field, A.P. (2009). Effects of verbal information on fear-related reasoning biases in children. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 47(3), 206–214. doi:10.1016/j.brat.2008.12.002