Cognitive Therapy and Research

, Volume 40, Issue 5, pp 717–731 | Cite as

Parental Emotion Socialization Strategies and Their Interaction with Child Interpretation Biases Among Children with Anxiety Disorders

  • Andres G. Viana
  • Laura J. Dixon
  • Erin N. Stevens
  • Chad Ebesutani
Original Article


Children’s interpretations of events play a significant role in childhood anxiety, and research shows that the parenting environment, in particular, is an important contributor to the manner in which children interpret their experiences. This study examined associations between parental use of punitive and minimization reactions to children’s displays of negative affect, child interpretation biases (self-reports and computerized assessments), and child anxiety symptom severity in a clinical sample of children with anxiety disorders. Forty-four children between 8–12 years of age (M = 9.60, SD = 1.30; 52 % girls; 52 % African American) and their mothers (M = 38.48, SD = 6.86; 57 % married) participated in this study. Child interpretation biases were significantly associated with child-reported anxiety symptoms. Moderation analyses revealed a positive relation between self-reported interpretation biases and anxiety symptoms for children of low-minimization and low-punitive mothers. Likewise, a positive relation between computerized interpretation biases and mother-reported child anxiety symptoms was found for children of low-minimization and low-punitive mothers. However, a negative relationship between computerized interpretation biases and mother-reported child anxiety symptoms was found for children of high-minimization and high-punitive mothers. Findings and implications are discussed in the context of how these parental reactions may be addressed and incorporated in childhood anxiety treatments.


Children Parenting Cognitive biases Emotion socialization Interpretation biases 



This research was supported by a Grant from the University of Mississippi Medical Center’s Intramural Research Support Program (IRSP; PI: Viana).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Andres G. Viana, Laura J. Dixon, Erin N. Stevens and Chad Ebesutani declare that they have no conflicts of interest to declare.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Animal Rights

No animal studies were carried out by the authors for this article.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andres G. Viana
    • 1
  • Laura J. Dixon
    • 2
  • Erin N. Stevens
    • 3
  • Chad Ebesutani
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of HoustonHoustonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Psychiatry and Human BehaviorUniversity of Mississippi Medical CenterJacksonUSA
  3. 3.Auburn Psychology GroupAuburnUSA
  4. 4.Department of PsychologyDuksung Women’s UniversitySeoulKorea

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