Scared but loving it : Children's enjoyment of fear as a diagnostic marker of anxiety?

Gilmore, Linda & Campbell, Marilyn (2008) Scared but loving it : Children's enjoyment of fear as a diagnostic marker of anxiety? Australian Educational and Developmental Psychologist, 25(1), pp. 24-31.

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Childhood fears of objects and events such as spiders, monsters and earthquakes are common, universal and sometimes distressing. At the same time, many children seem to enjoy the thrill of scary ghost stories, ghoulish films, and terrifying theme park rides. It is estimated that around 18% of children are excessively fearful. Although anxiety disorders represent the most common psychopathology in childhood, identification can be difficult because of the diagnostic overlap and co-morbidity of anxiety with other childhood disorders. The present study investigated enjoyment of fear as a potential diagnostic marker of childhood anxiety in a sample of 220 children aged 6-12 years and their parents. Many children reportedly enjoyed scary experiences, with boys and older children displaying greater enjoyment. Children whose parents rated them as excessively anxious experienced significantly less enjoyment of fear. The paper considers possible explanations for this finding and concludes that failure to enjoy scary activities may represent a useful diagnostic marker in the initial identification of childhood anxiety.

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ID Code: 13961
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: anxiety, children
ISSN: 0816-5122
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > PUBLIC HEALTH AND HEALTH SERVICES (111700) > Mental Health (111714)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Office of Education Research
Current > Schools > School of Cultural & Professional Learning
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2008 Australian Psychological Society
Copyright Statement: Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher.
Deposited On: 03 Jul 2008 00:00
Last Modified: 19 Oct 2015 05:02

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