Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review | 2019

Fearful Temperament and the Risk for Child and Adolescent Anxiety: The Role of Attention Biases and Effortful Control



Fearful temperament represents one of the most robust predictors of child and adolescent anxiety; however, not all children with fearful temperament unvaryingly develop anxiety. Diverse processes resulting from the interplay between automatic processing (i.e., attention bias) and controlled processing (i.e., effortful control) drive the trajectories toward more adaptive or maladaptive directions. In this review, we examine the associations between fearful temperament, attention bias, and anxiety, as well as the moderating effect of effortful control. Based on the reviewed literature, we propose a two-mechanism developmental model of attention bias that underlies the association between fearful temperament and anxiety. We propose that the sub-components of effortful control (i.e., attentional control and inhibitory control) play different roles depending on individuals’ temperaments, initial automatic biases, and goal priorities. Our model may help resolve some of the mixed findings and conflicts in the current literature. It may also advance our knowledge regarding the cognitive mechanisms linking fearful temperament and anxiety, as well as facilitate the continuing efforts in identifying and intervening with children who are at risk. Finally, we conclude the review with a discussion on the existing limitations and then propose questions for future research.

Volume 23
Pages 205-228
DOI 10.1007/s10567-019-00306-z
Language English
Journal Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review

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