Clinical and Experimental Psychology

ISSN - 2471-2701

Abstract

Exploring Childhood Cognitions Through the Contents of Childrens Thoughts Related to Anxiety: A Qualitative Approach

Filomena Valadao-Dias, Raquel V. Oliveira, Catia Rodrigues, Claudia Figueiredo, Isabel Leal and Joao Maroco

Aim: The main aim of this study was to explore the contents of children’s cognitive products (positive and negative thoughts) related to stories that describe anxiety situations. Method: The final sample was composed of 274 children aged between 10 and 11 years (M = 10.62, SD = 0.5) from a Portuguese community sample. The Portuguese version of the Nine Ambiguous Stories was used. Children’s responses to the stories were analyzed using mixed content analysis - the pre-categories and categories were established a priori, the sub-categories emerged from the material. The agreement rate of the main coders had Intra-Correlation Coefficients above 0.97 (p<0.05). Response units were analyzed regarding their frequency and specific contents. Results: Content analysis provided 6,665 recording units of cognitive response allocated to 75 different subcategories. In the nine stories, every positive and negative thought contained expressed emotions. Other contents were also found and divided into 57 sub-categories; 32 were related to negative thoughts and 25 to positive thoughts. Conclusion: The large number of recording units within the dimension of expressed emotions highlights their importance when studying children’s cognitive characteristics. Negative thoughts’ contents suggest that beliefs related to factors of vulnerability may contribute to higher anxiety symptoms. Some contents of positive thoughts demonstrate the existence of positive beliefs related to characteristics of childhood development.

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