The present study investigated anxiety-related emotional reasoning in 9-13-year-old children using an experimental approach. Eighty-one children completed a computerized ambiguous situations test for assessing their perception of threat under two conditions. In the experimental condition, children were attached to an apparatus that allegedly recorded their heart beat, the sound of which was presented to them via headphones. In the control condition, children listened to the sound of an African djembe drum while completing the ambiguous situations test. It was found that children in the experimental condition generally provided higher threat ratings than children in the control condition, and this difference remained significant when controlling for levels of anxiety sensitivity, panic and other anxiety symptoms. These results are in keeping with the idea that children may partially rely on internal physical sensations when evaluating the dangerousness of ambiguous events.

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Journal of Anxiety Disorders
Department of Psychology

Muris, P., Mayer, B., & Bervoets, S. (2010). Listen to your heart beat and shiver! An experimental study of anxiety-related emotional reasoning in children. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 24(6), 612–617. doi:10.1016/j.janxdis.2010.04.002