This longitudinal study examined the additive and interactive effects of behavioral inhibition and a wide range of other vulnerability factors in the development of anxiety problems in youths. A sample of 261 children, aged 5 to 8 years, 124 behaviorally inhibited and 137 control children, were followed during a 3-year period. Assessments took place on three occasions to measure children's level of behavioral inhibition, anxiety disorder symptoms, other psychopathological symptoms, and a number of other vulnerability factors such as insecure attachment, negative parenting styles, adverse life events, and parental anxiety. Results obtained with Structural Equation Modeling indicated that behavioral inhibition primarily acted as a specific risk factor for the development of social anxiety symptoms. Furthermore, the longitudinal model showed additive as well as interactive effects for various vulnerability factors on the development of anxiety symptoms. That is, main effects of anxious rearing and parental trait anxiety were found, whereas behavioral inhibition and attachment had an interactive effect on anxiety symptomatology. Moreover, behavioral inhibition itself was also influenced by some of the vulnerability factors. These results provide support for dynamic, multifactorial models for the etiology of child anxiety problems.

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Journal of Child and Family Studies
Department of Psychology