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  • Transcript

    • 1. DYSREGULATED FEAR BEHAVIOR FROM TWO TO SIX YEARS: EFFECTS OF CONTEXT AND PARENTING Kristin A. Buss The Pennsylvania State University
    • 2. Overview of Research Questions
      • Substantial numbers of children and adolescents develop internalizing behaviors that are associated with anxiety disorders
      • Focus on the developmental process from early childhood emotionality to internalizing symptoms is an overarching goal.
        • Etiological research has focused, in part, on fearful temperament as one precursor or risk factor
      • However, the exact mechanisms are still largely unknown.
        • involving the complex interaction of behavioral and biological systems, both in terms of reactive and regulatory systems
    • 3. Is Fearful Temperament a Risk Factor?
      • Behavioral inhibition/fearful temperament shows moderate stability, higher stability at extremes
        • Although there is also considerable change with children becoming less fearful with development
      • Risk for Social Anxiety
        • 17-30% of inhibited children develop clinically significant symptoms of social anxiety (Biederman et al., 2001; Schwartz et al., 1994)
      • It remains unclear, however, who is at particular risk. Who are the children who continue to be fearful and are “disabled” by this fear.
        • Biological diathesis
        • Intensity vs. regulation
        • Context effects
    • 4. New model Context Approach
      • Examination of the role of the eliciting context on fear behavior may help in prediction of risk.
        • How children regulate/modulate behavior in different context may be key component of risk.
        • Moreover, dysregulation (emotional distress outside the eliciting context) is a key defining feature of anxiety disorders in the DSM
        • Recent work in human infants has suggested that examining changes or consistencies in behavior across multiple contexts may yield important information about dysregulated behavior (Buss et al., 2004)
          • It was children who displayed longer durations of freezing behavior in the lower threat context who showed the greatest physiological reactivity
    • 5. Study Goals
      • Replicate the dysregulated fear findings from previous work to identify risk by focusing on the fit, or lack of fit, between behavior and eliciting context.
      • Expand previous study to look at multiple contexts designed to vary in level and type of threat or novelty.
      • Look at behaviors and symptoms consistent with anxiety in a multi-method, longitudinal design.
    • 6. Method Overview
      • Participants
        • 111 toddlers and parents
      • Phase 1 (24- month) Procedure
        • Observed during 7 situations designed to elicit varying amounts of withdrawal behaviors (also had 5 non-threat episodes)
        • Maternal-reported temperament and behavior problems
        • Maternal negative affect/behavioral inhibition
      • Phase 2 (Ages 3 & 4 follow-up)
        • Questionnaire packets including temperament and behavior problem symptom measures
      • Phase 3 (Kindergarten, ages 5-6)
        • Two lab visits (temperament assessment and unfamiliar peer group)
        • Maternal-reported temperament & behavior problems in fall and spring
    • 7. 24-month Episodes and Scoring
      • Episodes included:
        • Clown, Puppet Show
        • 2 Stranger Situations
        • Spider, Robot
      • Episodes were scored for the latency presence and intensity of the several behaviors (second-by-second)
        • Facial fear, sadness, pleasure
        • Crying, approach, withdrawal, freezing/inactivity
        • Comfort-seeking, proximity to mother
        • Distracting, playing, talking
      • Three identical composites were formed across all the tasks
        • Fear
        • Sadness
        • Engagement
      • These composites were relatively independent.
      • Predictable pattern across episodes emerged.
      • Able to characterize high, moderate, and low threat episodes.
    • 8. Context Effects: Fear & Engage Across Episodes
    • 9. High Threat Low Threat
    • 10.  
    • 11. Why Dysregulated?
      • Experience of threat/stress can be modulated by incentive properties of the situation:
        • novelty, predictability, controllability and availability of coping resources.
      • Ability to recognize these properties results in regulation of fear across contexts – flexibility of fear responses
      • Dysregulation = Rigidity of response in different situations, dynamic inflexibility
        • Mismatch between incentive properties of, or coping resources available in, the situation AND the child’s behavioral response.
    • 12. Research Questions
      • Children who experience high levels of fear and/or low levels of engagement in LOW THREAT tasks are dysregulated.
      • This dysregulated behavior at age 2 predicts risk for anxiety
        • Is dysregulated fear behavior associated with anxious symptoms concurrently
        • Is dysregulated fear behavior associated with anxious symptoms and behavior and longitudinally (ages 3, 4, and 5)?
      • Examining the trajectories of fearful temperament from 3-5.
        • Does dysregulated fear behavior at age 2 moderate growth curves?
        • Do maternal characteristics moderate growth curves?
    • 13. Q1. Fear Groups and Concurrent Anxious Symptoms F (1, 40) = 7.86, p < .01 F (1, 33) = 1.41, n.s. High fear in the high threat, Spider, episode is not associated with anxiety, BUT high fear in the low threat, Clown, episode is associated with anxiety.
    • 14. Q2. Fear Groups and 3 & 4 year Anxious Symptoms
      • After controlling for 24-month anxiety, dysregulated fear was associated with maternal report of anxiety symptoms at both 3 and 4 years of age.
      F (1, 29) = 5.66, p < .01 F (1, 27) = 4.16, p < .05
    • 15. Q2. Predicting Anxious Behavior in Kindergarten for Dysregulated Fear Toddlers (n = 50) Proportion of fear behavior in Clown predicted Social Withdrawal. r = .27, p < .05
    • 16. Q2. Preliminary Kindergarten Outcomes (n = 50) Average fear behavior was moderately stable from the 24-month visit to the first kindergarten visit r = .36, p < .05 No evidence for greater stability at the extremes.
    • 17. Q2. Are dysregulated fear children reticient with peers?
      • Yes.
        • We found peer behavior differences for the low vs. high dysregulated fear groups consistent with social reticence/anxious solitude but not with solitary-constructive behavior or group play (Rubin et al., 2002; Coplan et al., 1994)
    • 18. Q3. Growth curves for maternal-reported temperament Negative Affect decreases from age 3 to age 6 while Surgency increases. There were no moderating influences of gender.
    • 19. Q3. Dysregulated Fear Moderates the Surgency Trajectory Surgency does not increase for toddlers showing high fear in the Clown episode.
    • 20. Q4. Mother Approach Personality Moderates the Negative Affect Trajectory Negative Affect does not decrease for children whose mothers are low in Positive Affect and Approach personality.
    • 21. Summary of Results
      • High Fear in Low Threat situations characterized a dysregulated fear group.
      • These children had higher maternal-reported anxiety symptoms concurrently, and 1, 2, and 3 years later (at the transition to kindergarten).
      • Preliminary results for kindergarten adjustment support the stability of this behavioral profile to laboratory challenge tasks and social reticent behavior in an unfamiliar peer group setting.
      • Children characterized by dysregulated fear at age 2 did not show the expected increase in surgency from 3 to 5. Mothers high in approach personality had children with greater decreases in negative affect from 3-5.
    • 22. Conclusions
      • Assessing behavior across multiple contexts, including low threat contexts, provided a different perspective on risk.
        • For instance, high fear in high threat episodes was not associated with anxiety symptoms
      • Dysregulation of fear behavior across contexts may be important factor in determining which fearful children may be at higher risk for developing anxiety symptoms.
        • Even if temperamental tendency is to be fearful, the ability to regulate fear when cues signal low threat and/or promote approach is important for adjustment
      • We speculate that dysregulation of physiological systems will also be critical additional risk factor and moderator
        • stronger physiological basis for dysregulated toddlers (e.g., higher cortisol levels)
    • 23. Acknowledgements
      • People
        • Elizabeth Kiel, MA University of Missouri
        • Natalie Williams, PhD University of Missouri
        • Rebecca Brooker Penn State University
        • Martha Early University of Missouri
        • Amy Dribin Penn State University
        • Ben Deweese Penn State University
        • Emily Robinson University of Missouri
        • Karyn Hartz Penn State University
        • Jennifer Krull, PhD University of Missouri
        • Kristin Hawley, PhD University of Missouri
        • Dozens of current and former undergraduate students
      • Grants
        • NIH R03 MH067797
        • NIH R01 MH075750
      Thank you!

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