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Research Article

Implicit Anxiety: No Evidence for a Relation with Childhood Fears and Parental Rearing Behaviour

Author:

Stefan Stieger

Department of Basic Psychological Research and Research Methods, School of Psychology, University of Vienna, AT
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Abstract

Although the measurement of implicit (i.e., automatic) evaluations is widespread, little is known about their origins. Some researchers have argued that implicit evaluations develop early in life through socialisation processes and are stable over time. In two studies this assumption was questioned for implicit anxiety by asking participants about their childhood fears and participants' mothers about their children's childhood fears (Study 1: N = 230). Furthermore, pairs of siblings were asked about their parents rearing behaviour (Study 2: N = 120 sibling pairs). Implicit anxiety (measured with the Implicit Association Test – IAT) was not correlated with recalled anxiety in childhood, independent of whether the latter was self-assessed or rated by participants' mothers. Also, implicit anxiety (measured with the Single-Category-IAT) was neither correlated with parents rearing behaviour nor had siblings similar implicit anxiety scores. These results suggest that implicit anxiety is either not built in childhood or not stable over time (or both). Possible explanations and implications for future research are discussed.
How to Cite: Stieger, S., (2013). Implicit Anxiety: No Evidence for a Relation with Childhood Fears and Parental Rearing Behaviour. Psychologica Belgica. 53(1), pp.75–91. DOI: http://doi.org/10.5334/pb-53-1-75
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Published on 01 Mar 2013.
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