Covariation bias can be defined as phobic subjects' tendency to overestimate the association between phobic stimuli and aversive outcomes. The current study presents two experiments that examined this type of cognitive bias in children aged 8-13 years (N=147 in Experiment 1, N=240 in Experiment 2). Children completed a self-report questionnaire for measuring spider fear and then participated in a card game in which fear-relevant (i.e., spider) and fear-irrelevant (i.e., weapon and Pokémon) pictures were equally paired with negative and positive outcomes (respectively losing and winning candy). No evidence was found for a relationship between children's level of spider fear and the tendency to link negative consequences to fear-relevant pictures. Various methodological and theoretical explanations for this null finding are discussed.

, , ,,
Child Psychiatry & Human Development
Department of Psychology

Muris, P.E.H.M, de Jong, P.J, Meesters, C.M.G, Waterreus, B, & van Lubeck, J. (2005). An experimental study of spider-related covariation bias in 8- to 13-year-old children. Child Psychiatry & Human Development, 35(3), 185–201. doi:10.1007/s10578-004-6457-y