Effects of verbal information on fear-related reasoning biases in children

Peter Muris*, Eric Rassin, Birgit Mayer, Guus Smeets, Jorg Huijding, Daniëlle Remmerswaal, Andy Field

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The present study made an attempt to induce fear-related reasoning biases by providing children with negative information about a novel stimulus. For this purpose, non-clinical children aged 9-12 years (N = 318) were shown a picture of an unknown animal for which they received either negative, ambiguous, positive, or no information. Then children completed a series of tests for measuring various types of reasoning biases (i.e., confirmation bias and covariation bias) in relation to this animal. Results indicated that children in the negative and, to a lesser extent, the ambiguous information groups displayed higher scores on tests of fear-related reasoning biases than children in the positive and no information groups. Altogether, these results support the idea that learning via negatively tinted information plays a role in the development of fear-related cognitive distortions in youths.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)206-214
Number of pages9
JournalBehaviour Research and Therapy
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Children
  • Confirmation bias
  • Covariation bias
  • Fear-related reasoning biases
  • Verbal pathway to fear-acquisition


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