The present study examined the construct of attention control, which is an important aspect of effortful control, in a sample of non-clinical children aged between 9 and 13 years. Results demonstrated that attention control was associated with a broad range of psychopathological complaints, including symptoms of anxiety, aggression, depression, and ADHD. As predicted, lower levels of attention control were accompanied by higher levels of these symptoms. Further, attention control was also negatively related to threat perception distortions, which indicates that children who display low levels of this regulative temperament factor are more prone to such cognitive biases. Third, when controlling for neuroticism, attention control remained significantly (negatively) associated with symptoms of anxiety, depression (child report only), and ADHD. The correlations between attention control and threat perception distortions largely disappeared when the influence of neuroticism was partialled out. Only the link between attention control and anxious interpretations of ambiguous vignettes survived this correction. Finally, no evidence was found for the hypothesised mediating role of cognitive distortions on the relation between temperament factors and psychopathological symptoms.

Attention control, Children, Cognitive distortions, Effortful control, Psychopathological symptoms
dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.brat.2006.07.010, hdl.handle.net/1765/68019
Behaviour Research and Therapy
Department of Psychology

Muris, P.E.H.M, Meesters, C.M.G, & Rompelberg, L. (2007). Attention control in middle childhood: Relations to psychopathological symptoms and threat perception distortions. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 45(5), 997–1010. doi:10.1016/j.brat.2006.07.010