Cognitive specificity and affective confounding in social anxiety and dysphoria in children

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Abstract

Cognitive features of social anxiety and dysphoria were examined with a design that allowed for evaluation of each state alone and in combination. From a community sample of 211 8 to 12 year olds, four groups of children were defined based on previous researcher's criteria: mixed (high socially anxious-dysphoric; n = 14), socially anxious (high socially anxious- nondysphoric; n = 14), dysphoric (non-socially anxious-dysphoric; n = 13), and control (non-socially anxious-nondysphoric; n = 14). The negative cognitive triad and negative cognitions pertaining to the self were associated with both dysphoria and social anxiety. Both dysphoric and socially anxious groups reported significantly more cognitive distortions than the control group, yet cognitive distortions of overgeneralizing and personalizing were specific to social anxiety and not dysphoria. Both dysphoric and socially anxious groups reported significantly more depressive cognitions than the control group, and evidence of cognitive content- specificity emerged only for anxiety, although there was some evidence for depressive content-specificity in the mother's ratings. The mixed group was the most dysfunctional on all of the cognitive measures. This study provided some evidence of cognitive-specificity as well as the confounding between the affective states of dysphoria and social anxiety. Methodological, theoretical, and treatment implications are highlighted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-101
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment
Volume18
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 1996

Keywords

  • cognitive assessment
  • cognitive specificity
  • dysphoria
  • social anxiety

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