Anxiety in Childhood: Psychological Factors

Anxiety is a normal emotional experience that individuals of any age experience in response to real or perceived threats. In fact, anxiety is an adaptive response to the extent that it prepares an individual for overcoming environmental threats. This entry briefly describes a few psychological factors posited to explain the development and maintenance of anxiety. Most current theories emphasize a biopsychosocial model; this entry focuses solely on psychological factors.

Research on psychological factors that contribute to the development of anxiety has focused mostly on behavioral and cognitive determinants. Behavioral theories explaining anxiety tend to focus on a few different fear acquisition pathways. First, there is classical conditioning, whereby an unconditioned fear of a particular stimulus (e.g., loud sound) becomes paired with a second stimulus (e.g., innocuous ...

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