The effect of parental modeling of anxious behaviors and cognitions in school-aged children: An experimental pilot study

Marcy Burstein, Golda S. Ginsburg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The current study tested: (1) the impact of parental modeling of anxious behaviors and cognitions on child anxiety level, anxious cognitions, desired avoidance, and objective performance using an experimental paradigm; and (2) whether the impact of parental modeling of anxious behaviors and cognitions differed by parent gender. Twenty-five parents (a random selection of 12 male and 13 female parents) participated with one of their children (ages 8-12 years; 56.0% male; 76.0% Caucasian). All children experienced two test conditions: an anxious condition in which their parent was trained to act anxiously before a planned spelling test and a non-anxious condition in which their parent was trained to act in a relaxed and confident manner before a planned spelling test. Results showed that, regardless of parent gender, children endorsed higher anxiety levels, anxious cognitions, and desired avoidance of the spelling test in the anxious relative to the non-anxious condition. Parental modeling of anxiety did not affect child spelling performance. Significant interaction effects indicated that fathers had a stronger impact on child anxiety level and cognitions than did mothers. Results highlight the importance of parental modeling and the potential role of both mothers and fathers in prevention and treatment for child anxiety.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)506-515
Number of pages10
JournalBehaviour Research and Therapy
Volume48
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2010

Keywords

  • Child anxiety
  • Etiology
  • Parent gender
  • Parental modeling of anxiety

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Medicine(all)

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