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Title: The role of cognitive biases and executive functions in adolescent worry
Author: Songco, Annabel
ISNI:       0000 0004 7971 550X
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2018
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Worry is common in childhood and adolescence. In moderation, worry can serve as an adaptive response in anticipation to perceived threat. However, some young people experience excessive, uncontrollable, and persistent worries that cause significant distress and impairments to daily functioning. Research presented in this thesis investigated the role of cognitive biases and executive functions in adolescent worry. In Chapter Two, a systematic review examined the existing literature on child and adolescent worry and found that cognitive biases and executive functions were associated with worry in youth. The systematic review identified some of the gaps in the child and adolescent literature on worry, which provided a research framework for subsequent studies in this thesis. Chapters Three and Four presented data from the CogBias Longitudinal study and showed that interpretation and memory biases were closely interrelated cognitive processes associated with adolescent worry. Furthermore, Chapter Four found that negative biases played a causal role in the manifestation of worry from early to mid-adolescence. Chapters Five and Six, investigated the role of executive functions in adolescent worry. Findings in Chapter Five, indicated that attentional control and working memory were not associated with worry in adolescence. Moreover, these executive functions did not moderate the association between cognitive biases and worry. In Chapter Six, an experimental study was designed to assess the effect of active worry on working memory capacity using a worry induction paradigm in a community sample of adolescents. In line with the findings of Chapter Five, active worry did not impair working memory capacity in adolescents. The research presented in this thesis indicates that cognitive biases are mechanisms underlying worry in adolescence, however evidence that executive functions play a role in adolescent worry was not supported. Future research using longitudinal and experimental designs would provide further insight into the causal mechanisms underlying worry in adolescence and how these cognitive processes interact and develop over time.
Supervisor: Fox, Elaine ; Ehlers, Anke Sponsor: European Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Adolescent psychology