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Title: The effect of executive function on the conditioning and counter-coditioning of children's fear
Author: Rands, Gabriella
ISNI:       0000 0004 2688 991X
Awarding Body: University of East Anglia
Current Institution: University of East Anglia
Date of Award: 2009
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Introduction: Fear and anxiety disorders have a high prevalence in the general population. Childhood fears are a normal part of development, but in some cases these persist over longer periods and can cause considerable distress. The role of direct and indirect conditioning processes in anxiety development is well established. Recent research has considered the role of individual difference factors in the fear acquisition, and there is evidence to suggest that executive functioning is relevant to fear learning. Aims: This study investigates the hypotheses that individual differences in the form of executive functions kills and temperamental factors will be associated with the effectiveness of conditioning and counter-conditioning of childhood fear. Method: A sample of non-clinical children (n = 70), aged between 7 and 9 years, and their parents was recruited from local schools. This study used an observational design with a within-subjects experimental component. Parents completed the Behavioural Rating Inventory of Executive Function (BRIEF; Gioa et al., 2000) and the Children's Behaviour Questionnaire - very short form (CBQ; CBQ-VST; Putnam & Rothbart, 2006). Children completed the six-part test from the Behavioural Assessment of Dysexecutive Syndrome for children (BADS-C; Emslie et al., 2003), the Spence Children's Anxiety Scale (SCAS; Spence, 1994), and a go/nogo task. An experimental procedure manipulated children's fear beliefs and behavioural avoidance through provision of negative information or modelling. Fear levels were reduced using positive information and modelling. Results: Neither executive function nor temperamental elements were able to significantly predict the effectiveness of fear conditioning or counter-conditioning. Tentative evidence for a relationship between these individual difference factors and fear measures was identified when the sample was split by conditioning method. Conclusions: There was no evidence that individual difference factors influenced fear acquisition, or the reduction of fear following counter-conditioning. Group differences in results are discussed, and the findings are considered in relation to previous research. Clinical and theoretical implications outlined and directions for future research are identified.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Clin.Psy.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available