Anxiety and cognitive bias in children and young people who stutter

Jan McAllister, Elaine Kelman, Sharon Millard

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Psychologists recognise various forms of anxiety, such as generalized anxiety disorder, separation anxiety and social phobia. People who stutter are at risk of elevated levels of anxiety, especially social phobia. Recent research has suggested that anxiety may be caused and maintained by cognitive biases such as preferentially allocating attention towards threat stimuli. These biases can be re-trained using cognitive bias modification with resulting improvements in levels of anxiety.

In the present study, we measured different forms of anxiety and attentional bias for faces among 8-18 year olds attending the Michael Palin Centre for treatment for stuttering. The clients and their parent(s) completed the child and parent versions, respectively, of the Screen for Childhood Anxiety Related Emotional Disorders (SCARED), which provides an overall anxiety score and sub-scores, with clinical cut-offs, for generalized anxiety disorder, separation anxiety, social phobia , school avoidance and panic. The clients also performed a computerised measure of attentional bias for faces, using schematic stimuli.

Levels of anxiety were higher than in the general population, and prevalence increased with age. There was a significant correlation between SCARED scores produced by clients and their parents. Socially anxious participants showed a bias towards sad faces.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProcedia
Subtitle of host publicationSocial and Behavioral Sciences
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Event10th Oxford Dysfluency Conference - Oxford, United Kingdom
Duration: 17 Jul 201420 Jul 2014


Conference10th Oxford Dysfluency Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom

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