Comparing imagery and verbal instructions for the experimental modification of interpretation and judgmental bias in children
Vassilopoulos SP., Blackwell SE., Moberly NJ., Karahaliou E.
Background and objectives: Using an interpretation training paradigm, previous research has demonstrated that it is possible to modify interpretation biases in socially anxious children and that trained interpretation bias affects important aspects of social anxiety (Vassilopoulos, Banerjee, & Prantzalou, 2009). The current experiment was designed to replicate and extend the results reported by Vassilopoulos et al. (2009). Methods: In a benign interpretation training paradigm, descriptions of ambiguous hypothetical events were presented in a form requiring participants to endorse the more benign of two interpretations. Ninety-four primary school children aged between 10 and 12 years were asked to either imagine these hypothetical events or to read the same descriptions while thinking about their verbal meaning. Results: Participants in the verbal instructions condition showed greater decreases in negative interpretations and negative emotional consequences of ambiguous events from pre-training to post-training than did those in the imagery instructions condition. Additionally, children in the verbal instructions condition reported a significant decrease in trait social anxiety as well as in their self-reported tendency to discount positive information compared with children in the imagery instructions condition. Limitations: The results should be considered in the light of the exclusive use of self-report measures and the small effect sizes observed in some analyses. Conclusions: These findings suggest that interpretation training in children can be effective with verbal instructions and highlight the need for further investigation of how to optimize the effectiveness of interpretation training in children. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.